November 2018

The Victorian Actress in the Novel and on the Stage

by Renata Kobetts Miller

millerThis book analyses how Victorian novels and plays used the actress, a significant figure for the relationship between women and the public sphere, to define their own place within and among genres and in relation to audiences. Providing new understandings of how the novel and theatre developed, Miller explores how their representations shaped the position of the actress in Victorian culture with regard to her authenticity, her ability to foster sympathetic bonds, and her relationships to social class and the domestic sphere. The book traces how this cultural history led actresses to appropriate the pen themselves by becoming suffragette playwrights, thereby writing new social roles for women.

MELODRAMA OUTSIDE OF ITSELF. ARCHETYPES, INTERMEDIALITY, MASS CULTURE

Call for Paper: MELODRAMA OUTSIDE OF ITSELF. ARCHETYPES, INTERMEDIALITY, MASS CULTURE. For «TESTO A FRONTE» (n. 61, November 2019), an Italian peer-reviewed review of translation studies, comparative literature and media studies.
Considered for centuries a marginal dramatic genre straddling the high and low-mimetic modes, with the seminal essay The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess (1976) by Peter Brooks melodrama has been credited the status of a dominant narrative form of mass culture. It is now clear that melodrama is a declination of modern imagination oriented to elaborate plots marked by a sharp ethical polarization, by an uninhibited taste for excess (lingering in absolute and devouring passions, as well as in extreme situations to the limit of representability) and by a smug aesthetic of amazement: in short a Manichean and boosted device which from the late Eighteenth century vaudeville spreads, during the Nineteenth century, in opera, in the currents of visionary, historical and social romantic painting, in the realist, naturalist, decadent novel, touching the modernist one, and, during the Twentieth century, explodes in the cinematic melo and then in the television seriality.
Literary studies, visual studies, film studies and television studies offer today many glances. sometimes contradictory, but always stimulating, on this complex phenomenon which has always been transversal to codes, genres and media.
Starting from the study of the historical origins of melodrama, the forthcoming issue of Testo a fronte aims at stimulating research contributions able to focus on its meta-historical, theoretical and intermedia dimension, studying in depth the most resilient archetypical structures and the evolving practices of the contemporary melodramatic universe. What about melodrama in after-postmodernism literary fiction, with its massive return to typically modern mimetic forms? What about melodrama in movies after the crisis of the Hollywood system of genres? What about melodrama in the very articulate system of genres and sub-genres of television fiction? What about melodrama in painting beyond abstraction and in general in the age of digital art?
We invite submissions from different scholar perspectives; possible topics can include but are not limited to:
– reconstruction of important moments in the history of melodrama
– identification and description of the archetypal and metahistorical features of melodrama
– implementation of the notion of melodramatic imagination
– definition and mapping of the intermedia dimension of melodrama
– analysis of melodramatic (literary, visual, audiovisual etc.) texts
Proposals, in Italian or in English (max 400 words), should be sent to: testoafronte@iulm.it, by February 10th, 2019. Please attach a brief biography (maximum 150 words) and an optional selected bibliography (up to 5 titles) relevant to the issue theme.
Notification of acceptance will be sent to authors by February 20th, 2019.
Full papers will be due June 20th, 2019 and will be submitted to double blind peer review.
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Call for Paper: IL MELODRAMMA FUORI DI SÉ. ARCHETIPI, INTERMEDIALITÀ, CULTURA DI MASSA. Per «TESTO A FRONTE» (n. 61, Novembre 2019), rivista peer-reviewed di traduttologia, letterature comparate e media studies.
Considerato per secoli un genere drammatico marginale a cavallo tra i modi alto e basso-mimetico, a partire dal saggio seminale di Peter Brooks The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess (1976), al melodramma è stato riconosciuto lo statuto di forma narrativa dominante della cultura di massa. È ormai acclarato che si tratta  di una declinazione dell’immaginazione moderna orientata a elaborare trame contraddistinte da una netta polarizzazione etica, da un disinibito gusto per l’eccesso (che indugia in passioni assolute e divoranti, così come in situazioni estreme al limite della rappresentabilità) e da una compiaciuta estetica dello stupore, insomma di un dispositivo manicheo e survoltato che dal vaudeville di fine Settecento si dissemina nell’Ottocento nel teatro musicale, nelle correnti pittoriche del romanticismo visionario, storico e sociale, nel romanzo realista, naturalista, decadente, lambendo quello modernista, e nel Novecento esplode nel melò cinematografico e poi nella serialità televisiva.
Gli studi letterari, i visual studies, i film studies e i television studies propongono oggi sguardi molteplici, talvolta contraddittori, ma sempre stimolanti, su questo fenomeno complesso e da sempre trasversale a codici, generi e media.
A partire dallo studio delle origini storiche del melodramma, il numero 61 di Testo a fronte vuole sollecitare contributi di ricerca capaci di metterne a fuoco la dimensione metastorica, teorica e intermediale, concentrandosi sulle strutture archetipe maggiormente resilienti e sulle prassi in evoluzione dell’universo melodrammatico contemporaneo. Che ne è del melodramma nella narrativa letteraria successiva al postmoderno, dove si assiste a un massiccio ritorno a forme mimetiche tipiche del moderno? Che ne è del melodramma al cinema dopo la messa in liquidazione del sistema hollywoodiano dei generi? Che ne è del melodramma nell’articolatissimo sistema dei generi e sottogeneri della fiction televisiva? Che ne è del melodramma nella pittura oltre l’astrattismo e in generale nell’epoca dell’arte digitale?
Sollecitiamo contributi da diverse discipline, organizzati intorno ai seguenti temi che esemplificano ma non esauriscono le possibili opzioni di ricerca:
– ricostruzione di momenti significativi della storia del melodramma
– individuazione e descrizione dei tratti archetipi e metastorici del melodramma
– implementazione della nozione di immaginazione melodrammatica
– definizione e mappatura della dimensione intermediale del melodramma
– analisi di testi (letterari, visivi, audiovisivi ecc.) melodrammatici
Si accettano proposte in italiano e in inglese.
Le proposte (lunghezza max 400 parole), dovranno pervenire entro il 10 febbraio 2019 al seguente indirizzo e-mail : testoafronte@iulm.it, complete di una breve biografia dell’autore (150 parole) ed eventualmente di una bibliografia di riferimento (massimo 5 titoli).
L’accettazione della proposta verrà comunicata entro il 20 febbraio 2019.
Gli articoli definitivi (lunghezza massima 40.000 battute spazi inclusi) dovranno pervenire alla Redazione entro il 20 giugno 2019 e saranno sottoposti a peer review.

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

One Evening in Mayotte

By: Lee Haring

Marvels and Tales 32.1

Excerpt:

Melodrama

Making the local women his concubines is not only a wink at the men listening. The move also links to the narrator’s final story, which begins with an argument about them between Kôto and his jealous wife: “I warn you, Kôto, you have mistresses, you’re not a good husband. Can you marry the whole village? I want some explanations, Kôto!” The teller now reveals the ending he will use: “Kôto-finally the king’s daughter is going to kill him, he’s not aware of the situation.” Already we are in a different genre. Even when they tell the most familiar trickster tales, African, Malagasy, and Mahorais storytellers never give away the endings. The switch in genre is worthy of Kôto himself: to launch his final story (over 4,000 words long), he will narrate in a different genre. He adapts into the trickster context the conspiring schemes and vituperative dialogue of screen melodrama, film noir in particular. Generically no doubt, the Philip Marlowe or Maigret of film, ever marginal, ever the social critic, is a descendant of trickster (Paulme 33). Perhaps some zealous cinéaste will uncover a specific source for this part of the Mahorais tale; one could look in the combination of pessimism and romance of the Popular Front films, or the dialogue style of post-World War Two thrillers by Henri-Georges Clouzot or Yves Allégret. But even without a specific source text, the Hakoa narrator shows great skill, in the middle of a religious celebration, in adapting cinematic dialogue and character relations to a solo performance. Is his genre switch anti-traditional? Hardly: in Mayotte, the frequent language-mixing sets the model for genre-mixing in verbal art.

 

Space and Place in Alejandro Galindo’s 1950 Film Adaptation of Benito Pérez Galdós’s Doña Perfecta (1876)

By: Rhian Davies

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 95:4

Abstract

In his 1950 film adaptation of Galdós’s 1876 novel Doña Perfecta the Mexican director Alejandro Galindo transferred the action from the imaginary Spanish city of Orbajosa to Santa Fe in Mexico. To date critics have focussed largely upon assessing the ‘Mexicanism’ of the film, coming to the conclusion that the film, like the novel, is an overblown melodrama. This article will now pay close attention to the artistic qualities of the film, specifically its use of space and place, and will seek to demonstrate how Galindo, responding as a reader of Galdós’s novel, produces a work that not only invites new ways of reading Doña Perfecta but also highlights its timelessness and universality.

“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.