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Melodrama After the Tears : New Perspectives on the Politics of Victimhood


Melodrama After the Tears : New Perspectives on the Politics of Victimhood. Edited by: Loren, Scott; Metelmann, Jörg (2016). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Abstract

Melodrama,it is said, has expanded beyond the borders of genre and fiction to become a pervasive cultural mode, with distinct signifying practices and interpretive codes for meaning-making that assist in determining parameters for identification throughout a variety of discourses and mediated spaces, be it the public spectacle of personal suffering, the emotive coding of consumer practices, or the sentimentalization of national politics. If melodrama is so culturally pervasive and emotionally persuasive, then what is its political potential, both within and beyond symbolic fictions, and what might its limitations be? This volume represents both a condensation and an expansion of melodrama studies. It condenses elements of theory on melodrama by bringing into focus what it recognizes as the locus for subjective identification within melodramatic narratives: the suffering victim. Taking as its point of departure Thomas Elsaesser’s claim that “[o]ne of the characteristic features of melodramas is that they concentrate on the point of view of the victim,”4 this volume provides an expansion by going beyond the methodology of examining primarily fictive works, whether from the stage, the screen or the written word, for their explicit or latent commentary on and connection to the historical contexts within which they are produced. Though many of the contributions also address melodramatic works of fiction in relation to historical contexts, most of them apply theory from melodrama studies and the analysis of victimhood directly to historical events, social conditions and non-fictive cultural artifacts. Thus the expansion is not one beyond genre, a move that has been important in melodrama studies, but an expansion completely beyond generic and fictive forms, to contribute to a socio-cultural theory of melodrama.

Abstract

Melodrama,it is said, has expanded beyond the borders of genre and fiction to become a pervasive cultural mode, with distinct signifying practices and interpretive codes for meaning-making that assist in determining parameters for identification throughout a variety of discourses and mediated spaces, be it the public spectacle of personal suffering, the emotive coding of consumer practices, or the sentimentalization of national politics. If melodrama is so culturally pervasive and emotionally persuasive, then what is its political potential, both within and beyond symbolic fictions, and what might its limitations be? This volume represents both a condensation and an expansion of melodrama studies. It condenses elements of theory on melodrama by bringing into focus what it recognizes as the locus for subjective identification within melodramatic narratives: the suffering victim. Taking as its point of departure Thomas Elsaesser’s claim that “[o]ne of the characteristic features of melodramas is that they concentrate on the point of view of the victim,”4 this volume provides an expansion by going beyond the methodology of examining primarily fictive works, whether from the stage, the screen or the written word, for their explicit or latent commentary on and connection to the historical contexts within which they are produced. Though many of the contributions also address melodramatic works of fiction in relation to historical contexts, most of them apply theory from melodrama studies and the analysis of victimhood directly to historical events, social conditions and non-fictive cultural artifacts. Thus the expansion is not one beyond genre, a move that has been important in melodrama studies, but an expansion completely beyond generic and fictive forms, to contribute to a socio-cultural theory of melodrama.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Edited Scientific Work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:13 Sep 2018 06:43
Last Modified:13 Sep 2018 06:55
Publisher:Amsterdam University Press
Series Name:Film Culture in Transition
Number of Pages:330
ISBN:9789089646736
OA Status:Closed
Related URLs:https://www.aup.nl/en/book/9789089646736/melodrama-after-the-tears (Organisation)

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