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Funding Success! Dr Jennifer O’Meara and ‘Shaping Women’s Screen Voices’

 

We wish Dr Jennifer O’Meara congratulations on her recent funding success. She has received a Carnegie Trust Grant to travel to the Margaret Herrick Library to conduct research on her her project, ‘Shaping Women’s Screen Voices’, which explores the relationship between gender, vocal performance and film production practices and identifies historical trends in the way the voices of female performers have been shaped before, and during, a film’s shooting.

Through consultation with multiple versions of scripts, the project aims to uncover telling signs about the kinds of vocal traits that actresses are encouraged to perform (indicated by screenplay directions) and how this relates to the dialogue as scripted. The trip will allow Dr O’Meara to identify trends in the kind of language and terminology used to direct women’s vocal performances, and the degree to which this differs from the treatment of men’s voices. More broadly, through this focus on the way voices can be shaped by script directions and multiple edits of the script, the project seeks to develop a methodology for using script archived materials to study filmic voices.

This project contributes an innovative approach to emerging scholarship on the voice, an area of Film Studies that has historically relied on psychoanalytic theory, the validity of which is increasingly being questioned.

Dr O’Meara is the author of Engaging Dialogue: Cinematic Verbalism in American Independent Cinema. Forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press in April 2018.