October 2017

Media and Class : TV, Film, and Digital Culture

Edited by June Deery, Andrea Press

Although the idea of class is again becoming politically and culturally charged, the relationship between media and class remains understudied. This diverse collection draws together prominent and emerging media scholars to offer readers a much-needed orientation within the wider categories of media, class, and politics in Britain, America, and beyond. Case studies address media representations and media participation in a variety of platforms, with attention to contemporary culture: from celetoids to selfies, Downton Abbey to Duck Dynasty, androyals to reality TV. These scholarly but accessible accounts draw on both theory and empirical research to demonstrate how different media navigate and negotiate, caricature and essentialize, or contain and regulate class.

In the Name of the Mother: From Fascist Melodrama to the Maternal Horrific in the Films of Dario Argento

by Marcia Landy

in Italian Motherhood on Screen pp 21-44

In this chapter, Landy explores melodrama as a contentious literary and cinematic form in Italian culture through its alignment with a politics of the body by way of sensational affect. Bordering on, at times metamorphosing, into the horrific, the melodramatic imagination entertains scenarios of murder, monstrosity and bodily mutilation perpetrated by or on maternal figures.

 

September 2017

Rebecca d’Alfred Hitchcock by Jean-Loup Bourget

I have just published a monograph (in French) which deals with Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca. I start by examining the movie’s complex genesis, the respective contributions of Selznick and Hitchcock and the decisive role played by Orson Welles’ radio version of the novel. I then replace both novel and movie in the context of the subdued Gothic tradition exemplified by Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, draw attention to various Hollywood attempts to resort to 1st person narration in film, and conclude that although Rebecca does constitute a turning point in Hitchcock’s career and oeuvre, it should also be re-assessed in the light of some of the director’s English movies, specifically Easy Virtue and The Skin Game.

À Manderley, fastueuse demeure gothique de la côte des Cornouailles, se joue un drame fascinant. La jeune épouse du riche Maxim de Winter, désemparée dans un milieu où elle évolue pour la première fois, se trouve perpétuellement en butte au souvenir de la première femme de son époux, l’énigmatique Rebecca, qui semble hanter encore les lieux.
Tiré du best-seller de Daphné du Maurier, Rebecca, sorti en1940, est la première réalisation américaine d’Alfred Hitchcock. Mais était-ce vraiment son film, ou celui du producteur, David O. Selznick, internationalement reconnu pour Autant en emporte le vent (1939) et réputé pour son interventionnisme ? Deux visionnaires pour une œuvre magistrale, analysée en détail dans un ouvrage combinant description de séquences, études comparatives et lectures critiques.

September 2017

“Women in White: Femininity and Female Desire in the 1960s Bombay Melodrama”

by Anupama Kapse in Film, Fashion, and the 1960’s edited by Eugenia Paulicelli, Drake Stutesman and Louise Wallenberg (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2017), pp. 149-168.

Excerpt:

White as a Fabric and Architectural Frame
Clothes have served as a visual shorthand for representing the class or moral stature of popular characters in Bombay cinema since the time of its inception. The hero, heroine, villain, and others could be recognized as stock characters quite simply by what they were wearing: the heroine in a simple, demurely draped sari; the vamp with an “ostrich feather fan, gold wig studded with rhinestones, and leggings under a dark blue bikini bedecked with shiny doodahs”; the Anglicized hero in a black suit, shirt, and tie; the poet or artist in a pristine white kurta pajama; a rich father in a pipe and dressing gown; a poor father in a tattered dhoti and vest; and a villain (often acting as a buffoon) with hair dyed red, bow tie, and bright checked jacket. In the formulaic cinema of the 1960s, narrative patterns were established according to the easy recognition of this stock cast. Characters were simple and bordered on the stereotypical: the virtuous heroine, the sexualized vamp, the rich and overbearing father, and the lascivious villain were standard characters who stood for specific social types with well-defined moral values, or, sometimes, lack thereof.

Indeed, Bombay cinema mobilizes clothing as the primary sign of dramatic enunciation in highly coded and spectacular ways. If, as Peter Brooks has argued, melodrama is a form structured by the extreme polarization of good and evil, then, Bombay cinema is unapologetically melodramatic in its unfailing reliance on costume as an immediate and pervasive sign of this Manichean, black and white universe…

December 2015

Amours, Danses Et Chansons: Le Melodrame de Cabaret Au Mexique Et a Cuba (Annees 1940-1950)

by: Julie Amiot-Guillouet

 

Amiot

L’ouvrage aborde la facon dont les coproductions entre Cuba et le Mexique debouchent dans les annees 1940-50 sur la mise en place d’un corpus de films designes comme des melodrames de cabaret, ou l’apport cubain, loin d’etre purement ornemental, contribue a renouveler profondement les normes generiques en vigueur dans le melodrame mexicain.

Cet ouvrage propose une analyse originale sur les relations cinématographiques entre Cuba et le Mexique à la période classique, à travers la construction de l’imaginaire particulier du mélodrame de cabaret, peuplé de danseuses de rumba au sang chaud et au cœur tendre. Les films dont elles sont les héroïnes sulfureuses s’enracinent dans les traditions génériques de l’industrie du cinéma mexicain, retravaillées par l’apport cubain à travers la musique, la danse, les paysages et les cabarets. Ils façonnent des personnages féminins originaux, introduisant des représentations inédites de danseuses et de femmes fatales qui luttent pour leur autonomie, et jouissent d’une grande liberté dans leur rapport avec leur corps. Cette coopération cinématographique s’explique par la volonté des producteurs, distributeurs et metteurs en scène mexicains de s’imposer sur les écrans cubains, tandis que les Cubains espèrent bénéficier de leur savoir-faire technique et artistique pour jeter les bases d’un cinéma national encore embryonnaire. Toutefois, l’atmosphère « tropicale » mise en œuvre dans les films s’avère un trompe-l’œil commercial lié au regard mexicain qui exotise Cuba. Un postulat dénoncé par les critiques et cinéastes cubains, en particulier au lendemain de la Révolution qui souhaite rompre radicalement avec ce cinéma commercial. La réception et l’historiographie de ces films en font ainsi de puissants révélateurs des imaginaires nationaux qu’ils contribuent à façonner et à véhiculer

New Directions in Feminist Media Studies

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
 
full name / name of organization: 
Keri Walsh, Fordham University
 
contact email: 
 

Red Velvet Seat: Women’s Writings on the Cinema: The First Fifty Years (2006), which brings together a rich variety of writings by authors including Maya Deren, Virginia Woolf, Colette, and Lillian Gish that might provide starting places for new feminist film histories and theories. Other recent interventions include Kirsten Pullen’s Like a Natural Woman: Spectacular Female Performance in Classical Hollywood (2014) which explores the development of naturalist film acting techniques by performers including Carmen Miranda and Lena Horne; Shelley Stamp’s Lois Weber in Early Hollywood (2015) which argues that Weber “was considered one of the era’s “three great minds” alongside D. W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille;”; and Jennifer Smyth’s forthcoming Nobody’s Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood which promises to be “a new history of Hollywood that puts women at the center of production.” The momentum surrounding the re-telling of film history to include women promises to extend to all quarters of media studies. Works that already broach this broader terrain include Jennifer Christine Nash’s The Black Body in Ecstasy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography (2014) and Christine Ehrick’s Radio and the Gendered Soundscape: Women and Broadcasting in Argentina and Uruguay, 1930-1950 (2015).This seminar seeks papers that contribute to this significant new direction in media studies, and that extend to new areas of inquiry. Papers might work to answer questions such as: How does new work on women and media have the potential to alter, challenge, or transform existing canonical concepts in the study of media, such as auteurship, montage, aura, seriality, or melodrama? What new concepts might emerge as significant in light of this work? Who are, or might be, some of the key figures and foundational works for this new set of histories? How and where is the presence of women’s authorship in evidence even in works that have traditionally been attributed to men? How might we challenge and expand our methodologies so that we can see women’s contributions more clearly? How can these new media histories be constructed as inclusively as possible, so as not to replicate the logics of exclusion that have characterized media histories of the past? In what newly enabling ways might we understand issues of technology and disciplinarity in relation to women’s role in the creation and reception of media, whether as performers, writers, technicians, producers, audiences, theorists, scholars?

Submit 250-word abstracts to Keri Walsh kwalsh36@fordham.edu by September 21, 2017.

(This is an ACLA session that is not yet guaranteed).

November 2017

Deborah and Her Sisters
How One Nineteenth-Century Melodrama and a Host of Celebrated Actresses Put Judaism on the World Stage

by Jonathan M. Hess

Before Fiddler on the Roof, before The Jazz Singer, there was Deborah, a tear-jerking melodrama about a Jewish woman forsaken by her non-Jewish lover. Within a few years of its 1849 debut in Hamburg, the play was seen on stages across Germany and Austria, as well as throughout Europe, the British Empire, and North America. The German-Jewish elite complained that the playwright, Jewish writer S. H. Mosenthal, had written a drama bearing little authentic Jewish content, while literary critics protested that the play lacked the formal coherence of great tragedy. Yet despite its lackluster critical deborah and her sistersreception, Deborah became a blockbuster, giving millions of theatergoers the pleasures of sympathizing with an exotic Jewish woman. It spawned adaptations with titles from Leah, the Forsaken to Naomi, the Deserted, burlesques, poems, operas in Italian and Czech, musical selections for voice and piano, a British novel fraudulently marketed in the United States as the original basis for the play, three American silent films, and thousands of souvenir photographs of leading actresses from Adelaide Ristori to Sarah Bernhardt in character as Mosenthal’s forsaken Jewess.

For a sixty-year period, Deborah and its many offshoots provided audiences with the ultimate feel-good experience of tearful sympathy and liberal universalism. With Deborah and Her Sisters, Jonathan M. Hess offers the first comprehensive history of this transnational phenomenon, focusing on its unique ability to bring Jews and non-Jews together during a period of increasing antisemitism. Paying careful attention to local performances and the dynamics of transnational exchange, Hess asks that we take seriously the feelings this commercially successful drama provoked as it drove its diverse audiences to tears. Following a vast paper trail in theater archives and in the press, Deborah and Her Sisters reconstructs the allure that Jewishness held in nineteenth-century popular culture and explores how the Deborah sensation generated a liberal culture of compassion with Jewish suffering that extended beyond the theater walls.

Jonathan M. Hess is the Moses M. and Hannah L. Malkin Distinguished Professor of Jewish History and Culture and Chair of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of several books, including Middlebrow Literature and the Making of German-Jewish Identity and Germans, Jews and the Claims of Modernity.