The Wizard of Oz and the Western Cultural Imagination: A Conference celebrating and interrogating 75 years of the MGM Musical

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Frank Gray, Dr Louise Fitzgerald, Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse; Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton
contact email: 

The Wizard of Oz and the Western Cultural Imagination: A Conference celebrating and interrogating 75 years of the MGM Musical

Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton

November 21-22, 2014

Christmas 2013 sees the annual quest for best television advert, with firms such as John Lewis, Waitrose, and M&S all participating. Drawing on themes from Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, Red Riding Hood and The Wizard of Oz, the M&S advert is, in the words of the company's business development director Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, 'a modern epic where fashion meets fantasy', bringing to life 'much loved fairy tales with more than a sprinkle of high glamour'. This advert comes out months before the 75th anniversary of MGM's telling of The Wizard of Oz and demonstrates the lasting legacy this film has had within western culture.

The Wizard of Oz has received sustained interest from audiences, sparking numerous spinoff films (Return to Oz; Oz: The Great and Powerful, Yellowbrickroad), musicals (Wicked; The Wiz), and TV Programmes and documentaries (The Tin Man; The Secret of Oz). Baum's original tale has been reanimated and illustrated numerous times (most recently by Graham Rawle) and the book and film has inspired and featured in pop music albums by the likes of Elton John (Yellow Brick Road) and Robbie Williams (Swings Both Ways). The music to MGM's Wizard of Oz also contributed to the public responses to the death of Margaret Thatcher in 2013.

Despite being firmly embedded in the Western cultural imagination, the legacy of The Wizard of Oz has received rather sparse critical reception. Taking place in the same month that saw the release of the film in the UK, this conference seeks to fill this void and explore the film and its legacy through a series of innovative presentations that explores ideas such as:

· the Wizard of Oz within American and UK television programming;

· young women's agency;

· representations of twisters, tornados, and hurricanes;

· Technicolor and the emergence of colour film;

· the Hollywood musical;

· stardom and fandom;

· intermedial history and the story's migration to other media;

· paratexts, advertising and memorabilia;

· music, magic, witches and myth;

· representations of the American rural landscape and the Depression;

· gender and sexuality;

· the Wizard of Oz and cultural capital;

· carnivals, travelling shows, and fairgrounds;

· costume and the iconography of shoes.

Proposals are welcomed from all academic disciplines and can take the form of a paper, performance, artwork or poster presentation. Innovative presentation formats are encouraged. The conference will include a fancy dress, sing-along screening of the film.

Please submit a 300 word abstract to by 1 March, 2014. Papers should be 15-20 minutes in length.

Dr Frank Gray (University of Brighton), Dr Louise Fitzgerald (University of Brighton), Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse (Bath Spa University)

Conference Twitter Account: @Ozat75 Hashtag: #ozat75