Tag Archives: articles

Summer 2022 Articles

Divine Smells: Odorama, Melodrama, and the Body in John Waters’ Polyester

by Ido Rosen

Abstract:

The comedy Polyester (John Waters, 1981) introduced a new cinematic experience. The screenings were accompanied by the Odorama technique in the form of a ‘scratch and sniff’ card that was handed to viewers in the movie theater. There has yet to be a serious examination of Odorama, which is usually dismissed as nothing more than a gag. This essay shows that Odorama has sophisticated subversive qualities. It confirms scholars’ and critics’ view that Polyester was a turning point in the career of Waters, one of the most important queer filmmakers of all times. The film is frequently seen as his transition from the realm of anarchistic midnight movies to mainstream cinema. This shift was disappointing to many fans, some of whom even considered it betrayal. By contrast, it is argued here that although the film was made by a distinguished auteur, it is also a parody of classic Hollywood melodramas, and playfully adopts the genre’s conventions. Unlike Waters’ previous films, in Polyester the critical ideas are all beneath the surface. It criticizes social norms, middle class values, hypocritical and fraudulent images, ‘conventional’ families, and gender dichotomies in society and their representations in the cinema. However, this is disguised in a borrowed aesthetic, and expressed through a cunning tactic which some audiences and critics missed entirely.

Dreams, Visions and the African Melodrama

A Commentary on the Interface between Cinematography and Pentecostal Epistemology

by Anna Droll

In PentecoStudies

Abstract:

Pentecostal films in Africa have gained the attention of humanitarians concerned with the societal effects of witchcraft preoccupation. As well, they are of interest to anthropologists examining Spirit movements. Humanitarians address the ethical problem perceived in the Pentecostal melodrama and its narratives, while anthropologists and proponents of religious studies focus on the social and technological aspects of Pentecostal filmmaking and the discourses produced by these films within the religious landscape. This essay brings another avenue of exploration. It supplements the anthropological approach by exploring the Pentecostal narratives found at the interface of cinematography and Pentecostal epistemology for their theological substance. It is argued here that the Pentecostal melodrama is not only unique for how it serves as an epistemological technique for “piercing the veil” to expose the true state of things. It is also unique for how its narratives, themselves, are often products of a similar piercing, that is, of the dream or vision experience which visioners experience as the phenomenon of piercing the veil beyond the mundane to the noumenal. Referencing data drawn from recent dream research, this article explores the interpretive processes inherent to Pentecostal mediation of the seen and unseen, the role of prayer in that process and the suggestion that cinematography embodies the liturgical expression of a distinct Pentecostal epistemology.

Between a Pastoral and Melodrama: Frances Burney and the Romantic Stage

by Fran Saggini
This research is part of the Horizon 2020 project called “Opening Romanticism: Reimagining Romantic Drama for New Audiences”(OpeRaNew) ID 892230 within the ERC programme Horizon 2020 MSCA-IF-2019. The PI is Francesca Saggini. See CORDIS website at https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/892230

Abstract

It is well known that the neglect of the dramatic works composed by Frances Burney (1752-1840) was largely caused by the unwavering opposition put up by her father, the famed musicologist Charles Burney, who shared the strong anti-theatrical prejudice that characterized the century as a whole. Paradoxically, this critical disregard has partly continued even after the watershed publication of Burney’s Complete Plays (Sabor ed.) in 1995. Although a number of interesting contributions have since reformulated Burney scholarship in terms of comedy (discussing, for instance, the comic elements in Evelina, or the genteel comedies The Witlings and A Busy Day), the tragic component of Burney’s opus remains one of the last frontiers of enquiry. My talk, “Between a Pastoral and Melodrama: Frances Burney and the Romantic Stage”, offers a new dimension to the appraisal of Burney’s dramaturgy by focusing on ‘Hubert De Vere, a Pastoral Tragedy,’ written during Burney’s years at George III’s court (1786-1794). Despite the interest shown by John Philip Kemble, the greatest tragic actor of the age and the manager of Drury Lane Theatre, Hubert De Vere never reached the stage or, more surprisingly, the printed page, preordaining its subsequent critical eclipse.

Inventing the American City: Dion Boucicault, John Brougham, and Transatlantic Urban Melodrama

by Nicholas Daly

in Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film

Abstract

Two Dublin-born playwrights, Dion Boucicault and John Brougham (9 May 1810–7 June 1880), shadowed each other through the world of nineteenth-century theatre. In recent years, critical attention has often focused on their representations of racial and national identities, with Boucicault’s plantation drama, The Octoroon, and Brougham’s frontier parodies deservedly attracting attention. However, in this essay I want to spotlight their contribution to the local drama, and in particular their staging of urban America within the wider transatlantic context of staging the nineteenth-century city, in such plays as The Poor of New York (1857) and The Lottery of Life (1868). The city as it appears in their work is a place of spectacle, shapeshifting, and sheer illicit fun.

‘Why is it Different with a Hare?’ Game-Law Melodrama on Stage and Screen in Colin Hazlewood’s Waiting for the Verdict

by Stephen Ridgwell

in Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film

Abstract

Much of Colin Hazlewood’s prolific mid-Victorian output consisted of adaptations. A classic example of Hazlewood’s adaptational practice and an excellent case study in the restlessly intermedial nature of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century popular culture was his 1859 game-law melodrama Waiting for the Verdict. One of Hazlewood’s most successful plays, it was later adapted for the screen by the Edwardian filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon. Tracing his work across different media forms, this article further confirms Hazlewood as a highly skilled adaptor, while offering some viewable evidence of the creative links between theatre and early cinema. The article also suggests that what I term game-law melodrama represented a significant sub-genre variant to the broader one of domestic drama. Game-law melodramas such as Waiting for the Verdict offered picturesque entertainment for largely urban audiences, but they also provided pertinent social comment on a major concern of the day.

Spring 2022

Deaf Education and the Rise of English Melodrama

by Terry F. Robinson

in Essays in Romanticism

Abstract

This essay links the prevalence of nonverbal characters in English melodrama to eighteenth-century deaf education and Enlightenment linguistic anthropology. It reveals how Thomas Holcroft’s Deaf and Dumb (1801) and A Tale of Mystery (1802) draw upon the instructional practices of the Abbé de l’Épée, the founder of the first free school for the deaf; upon the origin of language debate; and upon the idea that gestural communication had the power to resolve linguistic conflict. Analyzing these associations advances insight into the rise of English melodrama, complicates notions of its inherent conservatism, and suggests that nonverbal signs, as they were practiced by deaf people and performed by actors on stage, provided one of Romanticism’s most salient points of imagined access to expressive truth—a truth Holcroft believed to be key to social and political reform

Intersectionality in Contemporary Melodrama: Normal People (McDonald/Abrahamson, 2020) and Kissing Candice (McArdle, 2018)

by Zélie Asava

in Austerity and Irish Women’s Writing and Culture, 1980–2020

ABSTRACT

This chapter explores contemporary screen productions written, directed and led by women, which interrogate questions of race, gender, class and sexuality, probing the socio-political impact of austerity on personal relationships. TV series Normal People (2020) and independent film Kissing Candice (2018) both foreground young, female and minority ethnic characters in their examination of formative experiences, structural inequalities and social membership. While each production reinforces heteronormativity and colourism through a focus on straight, white protagonists and their mixed-race lovers, they also reconceptualise constructions of Irishness, producing a multiracial snapshot of the nation. Utilising melodrama’s potential for exposing the precaritisation produced by neoliberal systems, Normal People and Kissing Candice examine how individual lives are imbricated within systems of power as well as the channels of resistance open to the minoritised individual. Through their protagonists failure to overcome or reform systemic barriers, these narratives offer a critique of the social order and a provocation to reimagine it, refusing the order of narrative closure by allowing more structurally emancipatory semiotics to escape the boundaries of the frame.

‘Damn all White Men and Down with Labor’: Race and Genre in Wilkie Collins & Charles Fechter’s Black and White

by Joshua Gooch

in Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film

Abstract

This essay examines Wilkie Collins’s theatrical collaborations with actor-stage manager Charles Albert Fechter from 1867 to 1869, paying particular attention to the ways in which Fechter and Collins focused on questions of race and empire. By historicising their 1869 play Black and White in light of the Morant Bay uprising and its discursive appearances in Britain, the essay argues that Collins and Fechter aimed to reinvent the race melodrama using the model of the imperial melodrama. The failure of this ambivalent play, which presents a critique of racial domination for its all-but-white protagonist alongside racist minstrelsy comedy, affected Collins’s subsequent presentation of racialised characters in his work.

Orientalism, deterritorialization and the universe of refugees in the Brazilian Telenovela: The Case of Orphans of a Nation

by Andreza Patricia Almeida, dos Santos, Lucas Martins Néia

in Border Crossings and Mobilities on Screen

ABSTRACT

This chapter investigates the representation of people with refugee status promoted by Orphans of a Nation ( Órfãos da Terra, Globo, 2019), a Brazilian telenovela based on the story of a Syrian family seeking to settle in Brazil after fleeing from war in their homeland. Drawing on a theoretical discussion on place, culture and identity, the chapter argues that globalisation and the consequent formation of transnational markets expanded the experiences of locality, as the territory of both production and circulation of audio-visual meaning. These reconfigurations are visible in the narratives of contemporary Brazilian telenovelas, which invest in disseminating more hybrid cultural identities as well as in a diversity-based national appeal without overlooking their melodramatic core. Following a review of how the Orient is represented in Brazil-made TV fiction, Santos and Néia demonstrate that, in combining fiction and reality, Orphans of a Nation puts forth less-dichotomous stances on the relation between “us” (Western and Brazilian) and “others” (Eastern and refugees) in spite of resorting to a migration imaginary that has already been consolidated by the media.

Beyond Melodrama: A Jungian Reevaluation of Steinbeck’s East of Eden

by: Carter Davis Johnson

in Steinbeck Review

Abstract:

East of Eden is often criticized as overly symbolic and melodramatic. However, such characterizations overlook Steinbeck’s latent innovations in characterization. Rather than developing stiff allegorical figures, Steinbeck makes creative use of Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes, forming personalities that manifest psychological potentialities and transformations. In this essay, I trace the manifestations of Jungian theory across several characters in East of Eden, contrasting Steinbeck’s use of Jungian archetypes with traditional literary archetypes. Additionally, I outline how this artistic feature also displays Steinbeck’s opposition to the exclusivity of Freudian theory. If the characters and plot are viewed in the entirety of their complex Jungian influences and careful criticism of Freud, the novel is reinvigorated with creative energy that surpasses melodrama.

Winter 2022

Performing Work: Maids, Melodrama, and Imitation of Life as Film Noir

by Gwen Bergner

in Signs: Journal of Women and Culture in Society

Abstract

In this article I argue that Douglas Sirk’s maternal melodrama, Imitation of Life (1959), advances an ideology whereby Black women are equated with and consigned to domestic labor. The film features two mother-daughter pairs, one Black and one white. The Black mother, Annie, works as a maid for the white mother. Annie’s light-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane, passes as white to avoid following her mother’s condition. But Annie’s death at the film’s end seems to bring a contrite Sarah Jane back to her subservient place in the white family. I consider Imitation in relation to nineteenth-century traditions of racial melodrama and current theories of Black materialism to trace how US labor practices worked with discursive systems such as the movies to make the “Black maid” ubiquitous and the modifier unnecessary. Moreover, the structural inequality that relegates Black women to service requires them to act as if they are free agents within a rigged system: that is, to perform an imitation of life. However, the Black characters seize agency from a scopic economy of pleasure founded on Black women’s embodied pain and labor. The emotional power of Annie’s funeral, heightened by Mahalia Jackson’s performance as choir soloist, appropriates melodramatic sentimentality and subverts Sirk’s intended irony to convey Annie’s value on a different scale. Sarah Jane’s protest through passing registers despite her capitulation after Annie’s death because Sirk’s technique for criminalizing her backfires. The film weaves elements of noir, including striptease, into the visual register to construct her as a dangerous femme fatale. But Sarah Jane inverts the narrative’s attempt to strip away her whiteness by making Black servitude the costume, not the essence. Thus, she destabilizes the racial binaries asserted by the tragic mulatta conventions. By theorizing Black agency in scripted performance, revealing Imitation’s hybrid genre of melodrama noir, and reconsidering representations of Black women’s labor, this essay contributes to work in Black materialism and Black feminist performance studies.

Colorblind Melodrama: Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls and the Absorption of Black Feminism

by Allison Rose Reed

Abstract:

Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (1975) has become a site of struggle over the reading and redefinition of racism since its original performance and publication in the 1970s. This article situates Tyler Perry’s adaptation of this Black feminist classic within neoliberal multiculturalism’s circuits of value. While Shange’s pairing of two competing registers—the hopelessness of suicide and hopefulness of the rainbow—underlines the text’s complex theorization of collective witnessing, Perry’s For Colored Girls (2010) reduces the rainbow to an empty multicultural symbol. Perry’s controversial cinematic adaptation can be understood as part of the neoliberal incorporation and sanitization of Black feminism. The film’s new narrative arc seemingly offers a righteous critique of the politics of respectability, but does so in order to discipline normatively successful Black women, and overall largely abandons Shange’s vision. Turning up the original’s drama and watering down its social impact, Perry’s Hollywoodization of Shange’s choreopoem capitalizes on the injury, not agency, of Black women, while decontextualizing traumas from the structural conditions that perpetuate them. Moreover, Perry’s rainbow expels queerness from its vision of solidarity and cohesiveness. The film indicates a broader cultural investment in centering diverse bodies while emptying out the Black radical epistemologies such representations make possible. The absorption of Black feminism is enabled by “colorblind melodrama,” or the aesthetics of an official antiracism that offers up narratives of normative exceptionality and spectacularized disposability in order to reaffirm the differential valuation of human life under neoliberal multiculturalism.

Spring 2021

The melodrama of Ozu: Tokyo Story and its time

by: Daisuke Miyao

in Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema

ABSTRACT

The Japanese filmmaker Ozu Yasujirō openly expressed his disgust for melodrama in a December 1952 interview. And yet, curiously, he said Tokyo Story (Tokyo monogatari), which was released only a year later, had ‘the strongest melodramatic tendency’ among his films. Ozu never said he disliked his acclaimed 1953 film. How should we interpret this contradiction? In this essay, I take Ozu’s conflicting claims as indicative of the complexity of the discourse of melodrama in Japan. I locate Tokyo Story in two contexts: the context of Euro-American studies of film melodrama and that of the discourse on melodrama in Japanese film criticism. The first context reveals that Tokyo Story cannot be comfortably categorized as a melodrama, though the film shares elements of the melodramatic imagination. The second context demonstrates that Tokyo Story is not a simple melodrama. Ozu’s contradiction stemmed from an ambivalent definition of melodrama in Japan in the first half of the twentieth century. By closely analyzing Ozu’s Tokyo Story, and how melodrama was imagined and constructed between the 1930s and the 1950s, we can gain a stronger understanding of the film’s relation to the mode.

Melodrama and Visibility

by Juan Sebastián Ospina León

in Struggles for Recognition

About this book

Struggles for Recognition traces the emergence of melodrama in Latin American silent film and silent film culture. In this deeply archival investigation, Juan Sebastián Ospina León examines how melodrama visualized and shaped the social arena of urban modernity in early twentieth-century Latin America. Analyzing sociocultural contexts through film, this book demonstrates the ways in which melodrama was mobilized for both liberal and illiberal ends, revealing or concealing social inequities from Buenos Aires to Bogotá to Los Angeles. Ospina León critically engages Euro-American and Latin American scholarship seldom put into dialogue, offering an innovative theorization of melodrama relevant to scholars working within and across different national contexts.

On ‘Not Being Nothing’: Post-ironic Melodrama in James Gray’s “The Immigrant”

by Simone Francescato

in: Iperstroria: Journal of American and English Studies

Abstract

This essay analyzes James Gray’s The Immigrant (2013) discussing it as an instance of post-ironic melodrama (Włodek 2017) aimed at recovering the purity shown by this genre in the early phases of cinematic history. The essay argues that, although the movie pays evident homage to pre-classic silent-era melodramas, it also destabilizes the genre’s conventions by resorting to a particular use of the mise-en-scène and characterization. This directorial choice allows the film to retain pathos without eschewing ambivalence and indeterminacy, finally contributing to produce a complex representation of immigrants’ experience as well as a rather bleak portrait of the American Dream.

Excavating French Melodrama of the First Empire

by Katherine Astbury, Sarah Burdett, Diane Tisdall

in: Sound Stage Screen, Vol. 1, Issue 1

French melodrama of the Napoleonic era was a form of total theater with text, music, and gesture inextricably linked in the creation of effect for the post-Revolutionary audience. Theater scholarship in France has long been dominated by textual analysis and, as a result, the interconnections between these elements of melodrama performance have been underexplored, although attempts “to ‘sonorize’ the study of melodrama” are becoming more widespread. Even the groundbreaking volumes of René-Charles Guilbert de Pixerécourt’s theater being produced currently perpetuate the subservience of music to text in that the play texts receive full critical apparatus whereas the scores do not.

Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown: Narcoqueens, Beauty Queens, and Melodrama in Narconarratives
by Maria Luisa Ruiz

in: The Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies Vol. 5, No. 1

The melodramatic narrative mode creates complex realities and news events as logical and consumable stories. This article considers the ways that popular media portray the cases of Sandra Avila Beltrán and Laura Zúñiga, both arrested on drug-related charges in separate incidents that overlap with narconarratives. My analysis demonstrates that Avila Beltrán’s and Zúñiga’s life stories intrigued audiences, because, in the context of melodramas, woman as criminals is an attractive trope that counters expected “feminine” behavior and challenges constructions of national ideals and respectable femininity. 

Reimagining Melodrama in The Old Curiosity Shop
by: James Armstrong
in: Dickens Quarterly Vol. 38, No. 1

Abstract:

This article considers how The Old Curiosity Shop constantly borrows from and reinvents the conventions of stage melodramas popular in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Rather than simply imitating the melodramas of the stage, the novel reworks them for its own purposes, transforming stage melodrama into something much more complex in terms of linguistics, scenography, and character. Focusing on melodramas by Douglas Jerrold, Henry William Grosette, and John Baldwin Buckstone, the article explores how Dickens freely borrowed from stage melodramas popular at the time he was writing The Old Curiosity Shop, but gives them new life by complicating and sometimes even subverting their conventions.

Fall 2020

Melodrama Interrupted: Kawashima Yūzō’s Interventions in Genre and Gender

By: Earl Jackson

Abstract:
Kawashima Yūzō(1918-63) directed 51films between 1944 and 1963. Although he began as a “program director” for Shochiku Studios, his subsequent films for Nikkatsu, Toho, and Daiei are among the most innovative and at times daring in popular cinema of those years. Although highly regarded for his complex comedies, Kawashima’s melodramas are not only hallmarks of eloquent filmmaking, but at times venues for formal experimentation. This essay will consider four instances in which the formal experimentation constitutes interventionsin the genre itself, especially in terms of the relation of melodrama to gender.

O’Neill and Camille: Domestic Drama In“The Web” and “Recklessness”

by Thomas F. Connelly

Abstract

At the start of his career Eugene O’Neill aspired to be a popular playwright. This is at odds with the conventional assessment of O’Neill’s ambitions. Dramas that take their inspiration from popular modes and from cultural nodes outside the canonical texts of playwrights’’ “major “periods are neglected. These earliest plays drawing on popular melodrama and relying on explicitly commercial theatrical inspiration do not fit the established model of O’Neill who insisted he wanted ‘to be an artist” or nothing. “Recklessness” could not find a theatrical production, but was produced as a film. “The Web” draws on popular conventions of “working girl” melodramas.The plays also draw heavily on the influence of adaptations of Dumas’ Camille, which had been a favorite for decades. The generic “domestic drama” in early 20 th century theatre has been limited to conventional households.  These plays offer a somewhat different view. O’Neill is known to have been influenced by Ibsen and Strindberg in his later works, but these plays reveal these influences as present from the start. Finally, they demonstrate that O’Neill had family relationships that had nothing to do with the allegedly autobiography in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. O’Neill intended “Recklessness” as a possible vehicle for his father.O’Neill must be placed firmly in the context of late 19 th and early 20 th century theatre. To continue to regard him as sui generis , hobbles our understanding of American theatre and O’Neill’s genius.

Anne Boleyn on the Nineteenth-Century Stage

by Stephanie Russo

Abstract

The Victorian theatre was the mass entertainment of its day, and Anne Boleyn’s story was a popular subject, appearing in forms from the melodrama to the burlesque. The Anne of many of these plays is virtuous and faultless, the perfect heroine of Victorian melodrama. The nineteenth century also saw a return to an emphasis on religion, with Henry Hart Milman’s Anne Boleyn: A Dramatic Poem presenting Anne as a saintly Protestant martyr. However, others, such as George Boker’s Anne Boleyn: A Tragedy, represent a far more active and intelligent, if flawed, Anne. Anna Dickinson’s play A Crown of Thorns would also be the first text to posit that Cromwell was always hostile to Anne due to his loyalty to Cardinal Wolsey, anticipating Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

Class injuries and popular cinema in Turkey: arabesk cries

by Özgür Avcı
Abstract
Arabesk is a trademark of popular culture in Turkey. At its foundation lie injuries of class, emotional wounds that society inflicts on people’s sense of dignity and freedom. Literature on arabesk has long underemphasized this salient fact. A syntagmatic and paradigmatic analysis of the narrative structure in thirty melodramas shows that the agony around which arabesk stories unfolds is rooted in class conflict. This study also reveals remarkable parallels between depictions of love in arabesk films from decades ago and the lower classes’ imagination of love today. Thereby, it provides confirmation of the importance of assessing the works of popular culture accurately if we are to better understand the psyche of their target audience in Turkey (and elsewhere in the capitalist world), which is primarily the subaltern segment of society.

The Two Orphans/Orphans of the Storm: Melodrama Stage and Screen

by David Mayer
Abstract
The origins of D. W. Griffith’s 1921/22 film Orphans of the Storm can be traced through a popular French melodrama Les Deux Orphelines (1874), its performance in translation on the British and American stage, and several earlier film versions. This article charts the ways in which the melodrama was changed and adapted over time and demonstrates Griffith’s indebtedness to nineteenth-century theatrical practices

MELODRAMA OF MIGRATION: Suffering, Performance, and Stardom in Ricardo Lee’s DH: Domestic Helper

by Oscar Tantoco Serquiña Jr

Abstract
This essay revisits DH: Domestic Helper, a 1992 play from the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) that explores how Philippine labor out-migration ensnares female migrant subjects in states of perennial leave-takings and tentative resettlements abroad. The discussion comprehends the suffering that overseas Filipina workers experience, as well as the agency that they demonstrate through performance in everyday life outside their source country. This essay concludes with an inter-subjective analysis of the very star and ultimate persuasion of PETA’s phenomenal theater production, Nora Aunor, the melodramatic mode of theater making, and the topic of labor out-migration. By putting these issues side by side, this essay discursively intertwines stardom, theater, the domestic, and the diasporic.

Winter 2019

Un)Frozen expressions: Melodramatic moment, affective interval, and the transformative powers of experimental cinema

by Jiří Anger

in NECSUS

Excerpt:

The Czech philosopher Karel Thein once said, with regard to the expressive features of Pedro Almodovar’s film Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother, 1999), that in melodrama, ‘a second lasts a lifetime, a minute is eternity’.[1] While the term melodrama is used in so many different contexts and with so many different meanings that it becomes nearly impossible to bind it to a discrete genre, or even a coherent set of stylistic and narrative features, the melodramatic mode of expression remains intuitively recognisable. From soap operas to Dostoyevsky’s novels, from boulevard theatres to grand opera houses, from live performances to YouTube supercuts, a distinct kind of expressive situation is clearly discernible – a scene of passionate suffering when the plot breaks down and freezes in a static and symbolic arrangement, a scene in which the figures are overwhelmed with emotion and unable to properly react, a moment that may seem relatively brief in terms of narrative content yet is pregnant with emotional meaning

 

Performance, performativity and melodrama as dramatic substance in Hindi film song sequences

by Anna Morcom

in Studies in South Asian Film and Media

Abstract:

In this article, I explore the dramatic substance of Hindi film songs through an approach based in performance studies, which presents performance as the very stuff of social life, social identities and social power. Given this, the enactment of song sequences in the Hindi film narrative cannot be dramatically benign, or just excess, or just pleasure (however intense). I describe how song sequences perform and thereby manifest and reify love and romance in the film narrative. Using work on public spectacle and power by Foucault and the public sphere by Vasudevan, I further analyse how they connect the public, emotions of love, and social or familial struggle in various ways, embodying key nodes of melodrama. I then reflect, in these terms, on the recent curtailment of performed songs in Hindi films. I thereby present a new method for analysing the dramatic agency of screened or background songs in films.

 

“You Can Be More”: Farscape, Melodrama, and Space Opera Revisited

by Carlen Lavigne

in MOSF Journal of Science Fiction

Abstract:

The science fiction television series Farscape (Syfy, 1999–2003) was notable for its subversive blend of science fiction and soap opera conventions, which allowed the series to present as a complex study of gender and sexuality. However, small but overt elements serve to undermine the subtler feminist or queer potential of Farscape’s overall structures. This article examines the series, specifically in light of later-season episodes and the two-part conclusion, The Peacekeeper Wars, in examining whether Farscape successfully maintains its position as groundbreaking cult television.