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.

Renaissance Literature and Modern Sociopolitical Applications: Leadership, Power, and Literary Legacies

deadline for submissions:
May 15, 2018
full name / name of organization:
California State University, Stanislaus
contact email:

Editors Tony Perrello and C. Anne Engert welcome proposals for individual and co-authored chapters for a volume entitled Renaissance Literature and Modern Sociopolitical Applications: Leadership, Power, and Literary Legacies. We are in the process of assembling a collection of essays that explores the current American crises of leadership through the dramatic literature of the English Renaissance or vice versa. We believe that many of our colleagues are already talking about the intersection between these two topics, and we envision this edited volume as an opportunity to further such exploration in a scholarly venue. Palgrave MacMillan has shown interest in the project, which we aim to complete by March of 2019.

Crises of leadership fill the news today, on multiple levels. This edited volume of essays will present discussions that offer analyses of Renaissance texts and how they may display relevance to modern sociopolitical conditions. We are challenged to understand, and sometimes resist, increasingly toxic structures of leadership and power in our midst. Such understanding may emerge from insights found in the rich literary legacy of political crises and the deeply flawed leadership behind them. Such resistance may accumulate along lines of gender and sexuality, racial and social identities, or alliances among unlikely companions. From both these lines of inquiry come questions that may involve a multi-disciplinary approach. The following are some suggested topics (others under the same general theme are welcome):

 

  • Trickle-down coarseness, vulgarity, anxieties, fears?
  • Gaslighting as a leadership strategy
  • The collapse of truth and/or dealing with life in a post-truth society
  • The denial of death as a response to imperiled empire
  • Tribalism and its effects in a complex society
  • The responsibilities, complications, and anxieties of enabling incompetence
  • The perils of friends, enemies, and frenemies as political bedfellows
  • Betrayals, denied and admitted
  • Spectacle, melodrama, and distraction as leadership style
  • Dealing with a leader’s Dark Triad personality (Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy)
  • The pleasures and dangers of taunting from a bully pulpit
  • Dealing with the devil and getting exactly what you thought you wanted
  • When governance becomes a reality show
  • Mourning, nostalgia, and fear as the operators of crisis
  • Anti-intellectualism and idiocracy
  • Do we get the leadership we deserve?
  • The normalization of the scandalous and cognitive dissonance among traditionalists
  • Political speech in the absence of meaning
  • Feeding the base, shaping and shifting the narrative
  • A foil, a foil, my kingdom for someone to counterpunch
  • Conjuring demons and hunting witches
  • Dangerous liaisons and hidden agendas
  • We know he’s flawed, but he’s God’s tool
  • Throw open wide the Overton window
  • The voices of the people during times of crisis in leadership

Proposals of 500 words should be sent to Tony Perrello at tperrello@csustan.edu by 15 May, 2018. Please include a provisional title and a brief CV. Full-length papers will be solicited from these proposals, with final chapters (expected length: 6000 words) due by the end of February, 2019.

 Timeline

CFP deadline: 15 May, 2018

Decisions communicated by: 15 June, 2018

Drafts of essays due: 17 December, 2018

Completed essays due: 18 February, 2019

Manuscript submitted: March, 2019

ReFocus: The Films of João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata

deadline for submissions:
June 15, 2018
full name / name of organization:
José Duarte/Filipa Rosário – School of Arts and Humanities

ReFocus: The Films of João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata

With a career that spans over twenty years, João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata are one of the most creative duos in contemporary filmmaking working within the context of Portuguese cinema. Acknowledged by several film festivals (Cannes, Indie Lisboa, Locarno, New York) as major Portuguese directors, and by the Harvard Film Archive as creators whose works “reflect the multifarious history of film, from classic genres to experimental film”, both filmmakers have contributed to the growing interest in Portuguese cinema.

 

Their works, either individually or collaborative, tell us particular stories of love and human desire, mythologizing places, environments and characters. Rodrigues and Guerra da Mata’s cinema challenge the audience by placing the viewers in hybrid territories where the auteurs explore their own obsessions: from the urban streets of Lisbon (O Fantasma/The Phantom, 2000), to the dark alleys of Macao (A Última Vez Que Vi Macau/The Last Time I Saw Macao, 2012), and to the “natural” world of O Ornitólogo/The Ornithologist (2016).

 

Together, or individually, they have been delving into different portraits that defy general cinematic conventions and focus on the constant reinvention of cinema and identity. In this sense, the authors’ own journey in cinema is also a journey on the many possibilities of the different identities and cultures that an artist (and a nation) can encompass and inhabit.

 

Within this context, we are accepting submissions on any aspect of these directors’ oeuvre – from comprehensive approaches (influences, themes, style) to more diverse essays –, but we are especially looking for chapters on the following:

 

–          João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata as auteurs;

–          Melodrama;

–          Identity;

–          Displacements;

–          The local and the global;

–          Marginal cinema;

–          Transnational cinema;

–          Oriental cycle (Multiculturalism, Identity);

–          Queer Cinema;

–          Gender/Genre;

–          Contemporary art cinema;

–          Mise-en-scène and/or dispositifs;

–          Soundscapes;

–          Digital filmmaking;

–          Artworks and Installations;

–          Autobiography/Memory;

–          Docufiction;

–          Expanded cinema;

–          Slow cinema;

 

 

The Films of João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata will be one of the scholarly editions to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press in the ReFocus series on international directors. Series editors are Robert Singer, PhD and Gary D. Rhodes, PhD.

 

Please send your 250-750 word proposal and CV to thefilmsofportuguesecinema@gmail.com by June 15, 2018. We welcome initial email enquiries to discuss possible proposals.

 

Final submissions will be approximately 6000 to 8000 words, in English, referenced in Chicago endnote style, and submitted by November 1, 2018.

 

Any questions can be sent to

José Duarte & Filipa Rosário

(School of Arts & Humanities, University of Lisbon)

Spring 2018

Televisual Experiences of Iran’s Isolation: Turkish Melodrama and Homegrown Comedy in the Sanctions Era
by Pedram Partovi

Abstract
This essay examines the television viewing habits of Iranians since 2010, when the first of a series of crippling international sanctions were imposed on Iran after diplomatic efforts to curb the country’s nuclear program stalled. Like many others in the region, viewers in Iran have been swept up by the recent wave of Turkish serials, which a new generation of offshore private networks dubbed into Persian and beamed to households with illegal satellite television dishes. These glossy melodramas provided access to consumerist utopias increasingly beyond the reach of Iranians living under the shadow of sanctions. Despite the enormous popularity of Turkish television imports with Iranian audiences, the Islamic Republic’s networks managed to broadcast some successful “counter-programming” during this era of economic and political isolation. The comedy Paytakht/Capital (2011–15), more specifically, eschewed the glamour and glitz of many Turkish serials for ordinary characters living rather ordinary lives in small town Iran. In doing so, the series highlighted not only the problems that the sanctions regime created or exacerbated in Iranian society but also the virtues of remaining on the margins of a neoliberal global economic order. The essay concludes by asking how Iranian audiences might enjoy both Capital and Turkish melodramas simultaneously.

Hearing the Difference: Sexuality, Xenophobia, and South African Melodrama by Madhumita Lahiri

Abstract

This essay demonstrates the political exigency of melodramatic cinema in twenty-first-century South Africa, focusing on the short film cane/cain (dir. Joradache A. Ellapen, 2011) and the feature film Zulu Love Letter (dir. Ramadan Suleman, 2004). I a4gue that the displacement of speech in these films–signaled in cane/cain‘s homonymic title and in Zulu Love Letter’s seemingly logocentric one–suggests a powerful challenge to the Truth and Reconciliation  Commission’s model of producing national truth through spoken testimony. Building on this insight, I examine how cane/cain narrativizes the problem of xenophobic violence in democratic South Africa by conjoining the experiences of minority ethnicity and minority sexuality. Connecting this filmic vision with the scholarship on xenophobic violence, I argue that the deployment of male-male sexual desire across the divide of national origin enables the characters of cane/cain to encourage more complex audience relations to those perceived as foreigners. Wheras a singular focus on decrying xenophobia might suggest that the solution would be a xenophilic position, cane/cain points to the interplay of identification and desire, even if disavowed, across politicized lines of national difference.

A Forcible Return to the Womb: Elfriede Jelinek’s Lust (1989) and the Melodramatic Mode
by Claire E. Scott

Abstract

This article explores the interplay between the genre conventions of pornography and melodrama in Elfriede Jelinek’s novel Lust. Moving beyond readings that focus on this text as a work of anti‐pornography, this article uses close readings of the novel’s melodramatic narratorial techniques to argue that Jelinek’s social critique involves more than an unmasking of sexual violence. Ultimately, Jelinek contends with the way literary modes restrict our ability to represent women as anything other than objectified victims. Jelinek reveals the limitations of both pornographic and melodramatic tropes by implicating her readers in the violence of the text and denying them access to the anticipated telos of both of these modes. When the protagonist unexpectedly kills her young son, it provides not a miraculous liberation from androcentric oppression, but rather a necessary pause for reflection and an opportunity for imagining a feminist political rebirth.

“Irish Nights”: Paratheatrical Performances of Melodrama on and off the Belfast Stage

by Mark Phelan

Abstract

Until relatively recently, melodrama has been an unfairly maligned genre of theatre history; its pejorative associations based on the prejudiced assumptions that its aesthetics of excess (in terms of its extravagant emotion, sensationalism and popularity amongst predominantly working class audiences) meant, therefore, that it was for simpletons. What Walter Benjamin excoriated as the “ancient lament that the masses seek distraction whereas art demands concentration from the spectator” fuelled bourgeois disdain for this theatrical form and the derision of the Theatrical Inquisitor’s dismissal of melodrama as “aris[ing] from an inertness in the minds of the spectators, and a wish to be amused without the slightest exertion on their own parts, or any exercise whatever of their intellectual powers” remained the dominant critical response throughout the nineteenth century. Indeed, such views continued well into the twentieth century and certainly characterized the modernist reactions of the founding figures of the Irish national theatre in this period. Frank Fay, cofounder of the National Dramatic Society, denounced both the aesthetics of Dublin’s Queen’s Theatre as the “home of the shoddiest kind of melodrama,” and the intelligence of its audiences who, “wouldn’t, at present, understand anything else.”

Melodrama and Soap Opera
by Elana Levine

Abstract

Feminist film and television studies shared a crucial period of development in the late 1970s and early 1980s, taking shape into influential fields and helping to establish central questions for media scholarship that would carry through to the twenty-first century. Laura Mulvey’s mid-1970s theorization of male spectatorship revolutionized the field, but left many feminist scholars wondering about female spectatorship, specifically the potential for feminized forms of “visual pleasure,” whether in cinema or other media.1 The result was a turn by feminist thinkers toward two objects: melodrama and soap opera. The work generated amid the Western world’s second wave of feminism focused on women’s engagement with screen cultures, but in so doing explored conceptions of spectatorship and audiencehood, the relationship between textual analysis and contextual inquiry, and the specificity of film and television as narrative forms and sites for the construction of identity.2

The study of film melodrama preceded the study of soap opera in an explicitly feminist vein. Beginning in the 1970s, film scholars began to attend to the category of “melodrama,” a grouping of films that were often seen as synonymous with the “family melodrama,” particularly of the post–World War II era. Such films had long been dismissed as insignificant for film study due to their feminized emotional excess, but in the 1970s such works as those of Douglas Sirk were “rediscovered” as ironic commentaries on the ideological tendencies of patriarchal capitalism, expressed largely through visual style.3 In the same period, Mulvey, writing about Sirk as well as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, began to define a more overtly feminist concern, declaring the specific “interest to women” in such films, given their emphasis on “the way that sexual difference under patriarchy is fraught, explosive, and erupts dramatically into violence within its own private stamping ground, the family.”4

The Mortara Case and the Literary Imagination: Jewish Melodrama and the Pleasures of Victimhood

by Jonathan M. Hess

Abstract

The 1858 kidnapping of six-year-old Edgardo Mortara by officials of the Papal States in Bologna unleashed a media frenzy across Europe and North America, giving voice to widespread expressions of outrage over the overreach of the Catholic church and the anachronism of Papal rule. Jews in the German-speaking world did not just follow the sensationalized reporting on the fate of this Italian Jewish boy baptized by his Catholic nurse. They also produced a body of melodramatic fiction and drama that took the Mortara case as its inspiration. This literature, written by rabbis and those with close ties to rabbnical leadership, responded to the Mortara affair by creating narratives with happy endings where Jewish children taken into custody by the church inevitably return to their parents and embrace Jewish tradition. Discussing literary texts by Salomon Formstecher, Leopold Stein, Abraham Treu, and Sara Hirsch Guggenheim, this article explores how German-Jewish writers self-consciously transformed the Mortara affair into melodramatic literature designed for the purposes of entertainment. Melodrama hardly marked a withdrawal from the arena of political protest, however. Studying how these texts functioned to entertain their readers, this article explores how this body of literature drew its energy from an interplay of fantasies of Jewish power and vicarious experiences of Jewish victimhood. In doing so, the analysis reflects on the social function of melodrama in nineteenth-century Jewish life, bringing to light the mechanisms that Mortara fiction used to produce pleasurable feelings of self-righteousness in its Jewish readers.

March 2018


Melodrama Unbound: Across History, Media, and National Cultures

Edited by Christine Gledhill and Linda Williams
Columbia University Press

 

For too long melodrama has been associated with outdated and morally simplistic stereotypes of the Victorian stage; for too long film studies has construed it as a singular domestic melodrama unboundgenre of familial and emotional crises, either subversively excessive or narrowly focused on the dilemmas of women. Drawing on new scholarship in transnational theatrical, film, and cultural histories, this collection demonstrates that melodrama is a transgeneric mode that has long spoken to fundamental aspects of modern life and feeling.

Pointing to melodrama’s roots in the ancient Greek combination of melos and drama, and to medieval Christian iconography focused on the pathos of Christ as suffering human body, the volume highlights the importance to modernity of melodrama as a mode of emotional dramaturgy, the social and aesthetic conditions for which emerged long before the French Revolution. Contributors articulate new ways of thinking about melodrama that underscore its pervasiveness across national cultures and in a variety of genres. They examine how melodrama has traveled to and been transformed in India, China, Japan, and South America, whether through colonial circuits or later, globalization; how melodrama mixes with other modes such as romance, comedy, and realism; and finally how melodrama has modernized the dramatic functions of gender, class, and race by orchestrating vital aesthetic and emotional experiences for diverse audiences.

About the Author

Christine Gledhill is a visiting professor in cinema studies at the University of Sunderland. She is the author of Reframing British Cinema, 1918–1928: Between Restraint and Passion (2003); editor of Home Is Where the Heart Is (1987); and coeditor of Doing Women’s Film History: Reframing Cinemas Past and Future (2015).

Linda Williams is professor emerita in film & media and rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Her books include Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the “Frenzy of the Visible” (1989/1999); Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O.J. Simpson (2001); and On The Wire (2014).

The Great War(s): Our Story Bucharest, Romania: 8 – 10 May, 2018

deadline for submissions:
February 25, 2018
full name / name of organization:
The “G.Oprescu” Institute of Art History, Bucharest

Third International Conference on Balkan Cinema

The Great War(s): Our Story

Bucharest, Romania: 8 – 10 May, 2018

CALL FOR PAPERS

Following on the second International Conference on Balkan Cinema that took place in Belgrade in 2017, The Great War(s): Our Story aims to explore how the Great War and other conflicts in the region have been narrated through cinema. The 3rd International Conference on Balkan cinema will focus on moving images made by filmmakers both from within and outside the Balkans in order to highlight the connections and differences between these war narratives that have at times coalesced into “our story”. The term “our” can refer self-reflexively to a view from the Balkans as both a unified but also more dispersed space, but also to a range of identities: victims or perpetrators, civilians or soldiers, women and children in devastated cities and in the wasteland of the countryside, or men on the front, the generations of participants or the post-generations.

These war narratives told from different perspectives of the involved parties eventually challenge History or work with it, or bring together diverse and often confronting and competing national histories.

 

The “G. Oprescu” Institute of Art History in Bucharest hosts the event in commemoration of 1914-18 War, but also as the opportunity to analyse and map out the rich range of insights offered by cinematic images of war and recounted through multiple narratives of wars in the region – from the Balkan Wars to the breakup of former Yugoslavia. War has been one of those perennially rich topics since the beginning of cinema, narrated through a wide range of genre guises, from documentaries to fiction films, war spectacles, historical films, melodramas, musicals etc. For instance, documentary war footage is a key component in historiography, while fictional portrayals of war are source of entertainment and pleasure, as well as material for the recognition of trauma, suffering, and victimisation. Nowadays, popular archival documentaries or docufictions have transformed films on history into “memory making films”, by showing that cinematic narratives of the past and present wars are important factors in the politics of remembering and forgetting, and constituents of collective/individual/national memory and identity.

 

Being part of a series, the conference aims to further develop transnational scholarship, transcend Balkanism and exoticism, and offer critical explorations of historical and contemporary manifestations of South Eastern European cinemas. It also helps the building of the transnational community of scholars working on the cinemas of the Balkans, South/Eastern Europe, the borders and neighbouring regions such as Central Europe or Near East, works of diaspora or communities in exile, spanning from early cinema on nitrate stock to contemporary digital cinema; and dealing with a range of themes set in the present or the past.

A range of possible themes for conference papers includes, but is not limited to:

 

  • The First and Second World Wars as the cornerstones of cinema in the Balkans
  • War and conflict – a typical Balkan topic?
  • Representation and Self-representation of the Balkans
  • War and archives
  • Changing concepts of war, changing narratives of war.
  • History and memory in cinematic war narratives
  • Intertextuality and transmediality of the past, present and future
  • Representing/deconstructing “the nation” on screen
  • Cultural memory and Balkan cinema
  • Reading and re-writing film (hi)stories
  • History, Military and Film Archives
  • Multidirectional memory in cinema

 

Special event. Public lecture

Prof. dr Dina Iordanova

Film Studies Department, University of St.Andrews      

Keynote speakers

Prof. dr Nevena Daković                      

Faculty of Dramatic Arts, University of Arts, Belgrade

Prof. dr Dominique Nasta 
Université Libre de Bruxelles   

Conference language: English

Presentation time: 20 minutes

Proposal submission deadline: February 25th, 2018

Admission notification date: March 20th, 2018

Proposal length: 250 words + short CV (Abstract proposals, names, affiliations and short CVs should be sent as ONE Word document) to the address balkanfilmconference@gmail.com