August 2018

Mélodrames” de Pixerécourt (in French)

Volume 4

Edited by: Lemaire (Marion), Martin (Roxane), Melai (Maurizio)

This volume presents a critical edition of three melodramas (La Citerne, Marguerite d’Anjou, The Ruins of Babylon), accompanied by their original stage music.

Fall 2018

 

“The Makings of a Contradictory Franchise: Revolutionary Melodrama and Cynicism in The Hunger Games”

By: Joe Tompkins
JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies

 

Abstract:

This article examines The Hunger Games franchise (THG) as a case study for how capitalist media cynically mobilize revolutionary desire as a commercial strategy. It integrates ideology critique and media-industry analysis to examine THG as a melodramatic fantasy that, on the one hand, bids spectators to enjoy the act of desiring class revolution in the films while, on the other hand, deploying various textual and paratextual strategies that invite audiences to be cynical about such desire. As such, THG epitomizes the contradictions of spectacular “revolution”: asking viewers to simultaneously buy into and deconstruct the mediated pleasures of class war.

Spectral Spectacle: Traps, Disappearances, and Disembodiment in Nineteenth-Century British Melodrama

by: Eliza Dickinson Urban

Abstract: Two nineteenth-century melodramas, J.R. Planché’s The Vampire (1820) and Dion Boucicault’s The Corsican Brothers (1852) exert a haunting influence on how we in the present conceptualise ghosts. Through rendering the seemingly invisible – that is, the ghostly body – spectacular through technology, while simultaneously concealing the mechanism behind that feat, the plays’ eponymous traps heighten the effect of the spectral even as their workings elude visual perception. My study elucidates the mediation of the traps through other facets of production. To accomplish this task, I undertake a phenomenological inquiry into the play’s sound, lighting, and scene design via an examination of the plays’ production materials as well as modern reconstructions of the traps. The sensory signifiers associated with the traps, including musical motifs and lighting cues, linger in the public consciousness even when the technology behind them has been rendered obsolete by later technological iterations.

 

 

 

Exploring Broadcast Literature: Television in the 21st Century

deadline for submissions:
July 8, 2018
full name / name of organization:
Sydney Literature and Cinema Network
contact email:

A Day Workshop

UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Friday 28 September, 2018

In the media ecology of the new century, one of the ongoing success stories has been the rise and rise of scripted television – as a serious medium for ideas and debate, and as a space for developing new formal and generic schemas. Derided in the postwar decades for its formulaic and hidebound stories, and for being subject to constraints by censors and advertisers alike, television is now regularly raised above both film and theatre as the dramatic art form par excellence. The reasons for this gradual, yet none the less surprising, turnaround are numerous and well documented: the mushrooming of cable companies and subscription services; the widespread availability of file-sharing platforms; the popularity of the DVD boxed set (in the 2000s) and of streaming services (in the 2010s); the decision of content providers to become content producers (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime); and the increasing affordability of flatscreen TV sets and digital projectors.

As well as the economic logic underpinning the cable TV ascendancy, there are sound creative reasons for why producers, writers and directors might seek the freedom of long- form serial drama and comedy, rather than the self-contained, episodic model that still characterises network television. This freedom has been especially gratifying for the screenwriter. Often treated as expendable, or at least as subordinate, by the major film studios, in the cable TV context the writer now assumes the mantle of auteur (elevated to the creative-managerial position of ‘showrunner’), whilst the director is treated as a replaceable and near-anonymous gun-for-hire. This shifting of priorities has resulted in a more ‘literary’ and challenging medium. With its distinctively idiomatic dialogue, finely calibrated plot intricacies, and layering of story- and character-arcs, sometimes across several seasons, serial television has come to resemble nothing so much as the multi- volume novel.

The proposed workshop seeks to reflect further on these changes undergone by the medium, with a close examination of the millennial wave of TV shows (c. 1997 – present) that have contributed to the new environment. If ‘TV is the new novel’, as is often claimed, how do any of these shows underwrite, advance or contest the notion of ‘broadcast literature’ described above? Has the incursion of ‘literary values’, real or perceived, into what was once considered to be a sub-literate medium been an unequivocal good? Alternately, has ‘broadcast literature’ affected the ways that traditional (print) literature is written, interpreted, consumed?

If you are interested in exploring the literary attributes or implications of creator-driven television and would like to contribute to the workshop – with either a 15-20 min paper, or some clips framed by topics for discussion – please send an expression of interest by 8 July: 3-4 sentences outlining what you would like to speak on, and a brief bionote, to:

broadcastlit@gmail.com

Enquiries can also be sent to this address.

Attendees will be asked to register in advance, but there is no registration fee. Catering (lunch) will be provided.

Organisers: A/Prof Paul Sheehan (Macquarie University) / Blythe Worthy (University of Sydney)

June 2018

“The Colored Angle”: Contending Visions of Imitation of Life

by Alice Mikal Craven

in Visible and Invisible Whiteness : Amevisible and invisible whiteness.jpgrican White Supremacy Through the Cinematic Lens

A comparative analysis of the 1934 John M. Stahl film Imitation of Life and émigré director Douglas Sirk’s 1959 version allows for a more precise definition of how visible and invisible whiteness can be defined and represented in the cinema. The chapter argues that by looking at Stahl’s decisions concerning the generic structures he uses throughout the film, the visibility of whiteness that dominates in the first half of the film is rendered invisible by changing the guiding genre of the film from melodrama to romantic comedy halfway through the film. The chapter equally argues that Sirk’s focus on “the colored angle” allows for a different perspective on cinematic representations of white supremacy.

August 2018

Melodrama, Self and Nation in Post-War British Popular Film

By Johanna Laitila

This book investigates the portrayal of nationalities and sexualities in British post-Second World War crime film and melodrama. By melodrama popular filmfocusing on these genres, and looking at the concept of melodrama as an analytical tool apt for the analysis of both sexuality and nation, the book offers insight into the desires, fears, and anxieties of post-war culture. The problem of returning to ‘normalcy’ after the war is one of the recurring themes discussed; alienation from society, family, and the self were central issues for both women and men in the post-war years, and the book examines the anxieties surrounding these social changes in the films of the period. In particular, it explores heterosexuality and nationality as some of the most prominent frameworks for the construction of identities in our time, structures that, for all their centrality, are made invisible in our culture.

 

 

 

Mélodrames” de Pixerécourt (in French)

Volume 4

Melodrama pixerecourtEdited by: Lemaire (Marion), Martin (Roxane), Melai (Maurizio)

This volume presents a critical edition of three melodramas (La Citerne, Marguerite d’Anjou, The Ruins of Babylon), accompanied by their original stage music.

May 2018

Dreadful: Aesthetic Fear in Victorian Reading
by Pamela K. Gilbert

in Fear in the Medical and Literary Imagination, Medieval to Modern ed. by Daniel McCann and Claire McKechnie-Mason

Abstract

The late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw the rise of both the novel and physiological psychology, in which thinkers interested in affect often turned to literature to understand the functions of fictional emotion. One problem that has dogged aesthetic and psychological theorists since at least Aristotle is the aesthetic appreciation of negative affects. Why do we read tragedy, melodrama, and horror fiction, which evoke fear and sadness? How do we enjoy them? This essay will survey the history of the debate on the psychology and physiology of fear, including associationism, common sense and evolutionary theories. It will then discuss the period’s fiction, focusing especially on the affect of reading in the genres of gothic and sensation.


Elective Affinities: The Spectacle of Melodrama and Sensationalism in Cinco esquinas by Mario Vargas Llosa

by Jorge Carlos Guerrero

in Postmodern Parody in Latin American Literature ed. by Helene Carol Weldt-Basson

Abstract:

Guerrero argues that Mario Vargas Llosa’s Cinco esquinas [Five Points] is an ironic and self-reflexive parody of yellow journalism that advances a harsh indictment of both yellow journalism’s political uses by Alberto Fujimori’s regime in Peru, as well as its place in contemporary democratic culture. Based on the premise that the aesthetics of melodrama is intrinsic to sensationalism, the chapter examines the ways in which the novel imitates the excesses of sensationalist journalism through an ample repository of melodramatic techniques. Guerrero further contends that, through the playful engagement with other intertexts—notably Peruvian criollo music—Cinco esquinas is self-derisory about its skeptical perspective on culture and politics, thus undermining, in a postmodern fashion, the discourse of a narrator whose views mirror those of the author.