NAVSA 2019

Subject: CFP – “Melodrama’s Challenge” (NAVSA, October 2019)
Dear Colleagues,
My apologies for this late notice.  I’m seeking colleagues to participate in a melodrama roundtable to be proposed for NAVSA’s upcoming annual conference (to be held in Columbus, Ohio, October 17-19).   The conference theme is “Media. Genre. The Generic,” and proposals are invited “on any aspect of media, mediation, medium-ness, genus, or genre,’ including, for example, “literary and artistic form; word, image, and sound production; the general and the specific; the average and the exceptional; and historical, social, and scientific taxonomies.”  As recent melodrama scholarship has called into question so many of these concepts and their critical histories, the conference seems an ideal occasion to consider and assess that impact as a whole.

Although the roundtable will concern itself with these questions as they pertain to the Victorian era and its media, my hope is to include melodrama scholars whose work addresses other periods, mediums, and modes—and so I invite all of you to consider applying.   As many of you know, NAVSA conferences have become an excellent venue in which to present work on melodrama, and the format of their roundtables (5-8 minute short papers followed by extended discussion) is collegial, fairly undemanding, and suits the presentation of developing work very well.

The CFP for the roundtable is below.  If you are interested, please submit a 250-word abstract for a short (5-8 minute) paper and a 1-2 page cv to me at by January 23rd..  I will be happy to answer queries as well. Again, my apologies for such short notice.

With warm regards,

Matt Buckley

CFP – Proposed Roundtable, NAVSA 2019
Melodrama’s Challenges

Over the last few decades, growing scholarly attention to Victorian melodrama has begun to suggest the need for a significant reappraisal of the history of modern art and literary form.  It has made evident the perils of treating different mediums and modes as distinctive traditions and separate areas of inquiry, called into question the validity and the legacy of traditional critical attention to the exceptional rather than the average work of art, and undermined long-accepted accounts of the history of genre—and of dramatic genre particularly—in the Victorian era and the modern era at large.

This roundtable will explore these each of these challenges and try to assess their implications and limits. How does recent recognition of melodrama’s fundamentally multi- and inter-medial character alter conceptions of media, mediation, and medium-ness?  How does growing awareness of its popularity and ubiquity change critical understanding of the historical relations between innovation and convention, between the exceptional and the average? In what ways, and to what extent, does emergent understanding of melodrama’s viral transformation of other forms, genres, and representational modes revise our sense of Victorian—and modern—art and aesthetics?

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