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“Running since 2012, The University of Kent’s Melodrama Research Group is pleased to be interdisciplinary, as well as open and welcoming to all with our regular screening and discussion sessions. We also maintain links across the University, the UK, and Beyond, attending and organising events such as symposia and conferences.

Currently we are enjoying working with writer/director Tamsin Flower on her play TRANSFORMER.

Our sister blog Network of Research: Movies, Magazines and Audiences (NoRMMA) focuses on fan magazines, but at the moment is also running projects on other magazines from World War I. In addition to using some material from fan magazines to illustrate and investigate melodrama, we have also been considering the related matter of Gothic, within Kent’s Gothic Feminism project.  As part of our work on the Gothic we produced a 20 minute video essay, Passages of Gothic, in 2016.

For more information, please visit the Links and Media & Publications pages using the above tabs, or the blog’s search function. Return often for announcements of upcoming screening and discussion sessions, summaries of our discussions, and other relevant blog posts below.”

 

Email: Sarah at sp761@kent.ac.uk

Melodrama Screening and Discussion, Wednesday 15th of January, 5-7pm, Jarman 6

All are very welcome to join us for the first of this term’s screening and discussion sessions.  We’ll be showing Young and Innocent (1937, Alfred Hitchcock, 83 mins) on Wednesday the 15th of January, 5-7pm, in Jarman 6.

This film is part of our new focus on film adaptations of detective novels written by women. It is based on Josephine Tey’s second Inspector Alan Grant novel, A Shilling for Candles, which was published in 1936.

 

In addition to comparing the film to Tey’s novel, we will, of course, be focusing on how it relates to melodrama. The UK fan magazine Picture Show is helpful in this regard. Its preview, written by Maud Hughes, opens by noting that ‘romance runs through the warp of crime’ (25th of December 1937, p. 5). Hughes then briefly recounts some crucial aspects of the characters and the plots provides more detail. In edited form (for the sake of spoilers!) the summary is that ‘Nova Pilbeam is the daughter of a Chief Constable [who] helps a…man wanted by the police on a charge of murder’.

The man on the run (played by Derrick de Marney) may be related to some Dirk Bogarde melodramas we have screened over the last couple of years. These showed Bogarde as a suffering figure and also contained the Mystery, Violence and Chase  aspects of the male melodrama (see especially Hunted: https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/melodramaresearchgroup/2018/10/18/summary-of-discussion-on-hunted/  ) .

Meanwhile the main female character is potentially the ‘woman in peril’ we have often seen in gothic films, as well as the ‘suffering woman’ of melodrama. The US title of the film, The Girl was Young, further underlines this, suggesting that it is she who is the ‘young and innocent’ (and therefore the most vulnerable character) of Hitchcock’s film.

Hughes comments following her plot summary that ‘cynical’ critics may consider the film to be ‘sheer melodrama’ are very instructive. They demonstrate that ‘melodrama’ is often a pejorative term, especially when it is undiluted (‘sheer’). But Hughes argues for its historical popularity: it is the sort of the story which has ‘held the interest of the big public for hundreds of years’.

Hopefully we’ll enjoy it too. Do join us if you can.

Timetable for Spring 2020 Melodrama Screenings

All are welcome to attend our screening and discussion sessions in the Spring term. These will take place on ‘odd’ Wednesdays from 5-7pm in Jarman 6, starting on the 15th of January.

This term we will be turning our attention to film adaptations of detective novels written by women from the UK. This gives us the chance to compare melodrama on the page (from the 1930s to the 1950s) and the screen (with films dating from 1937 to 1963).

15th January 2020  Young and Innocent (1937, Alfred Hitchcock, UK, 83 mins) based on the 1936 novel A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey.

29th January 2020 Haunted Honeymoon (1940, Arthur B Woods, Richard Thorpe, UK 99 mins), an adaptation of the final entry in Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey series, Busman’s Honeymoon, published in 1937.

12th February 2020 Green For Danger (1946, Sidney Gilliat, UK, 91 mins), from Christianna Brand’s 1944 Inspector Cockerill novel of the same name.

26th February 2020 The Franchise Affair (1951, Lawrence Huntingdon, UK, 95 mins), adapted from Josephine Tey’s 1948 novel of the same name, which in turn was based on a real-life case. This is the 3rd of Tey’s Inspector Alan Grant series, immediately preceded by A Shilling for Candles (see 15th January 2020 entry above).

11th March 2020 Tiger in the Smoke (1956, Roy Ward Baker, UK, 94 mins) based on  Margery Alingham’s ‘Campion’ novel of the same name, the 17th of the series, from 1952.

25th March 2020 Murder at the Gallop (1963, George Pollock, UK, 81 mins), a very free adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1953 Hercule Poirot novel, After the Funeral, which was altered to star Margaret Rutherford as Christie’s other best-known detective – Miss Jane Marple.

Additional details will be posted in due course.

Christmas Screening and Discussion Session, Tuesday 10th of December, 4pm-8pm, Jarman

All are very welcome to join us for a Christmas Screening and discussion session on Tuesday the 10th of December, 4-8pm, in Jarman.

We will be screening The Bat Whispers (1930, Roland West) and Night of the Demon (1957, Jacques Tourneur). We have previously screened the former at Halloween (https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/melodramaresearchgroup/2018/11/08/summary-of-discussion-on-the-bat-whispers/) Night of the Demon seems especially appropriate, however,  for the season. (I have indeed Christmassifed the images from the films to make both seem more festive!)  Night of  the Demon is an adaption  of MR James’ short story ‘The Casting of the Runes’. We screened a TV adaption of James’  ghost story ‘Number 13’ two years ago:

https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/melodramaresearchgroup/2017/12/21/summary-of-discussion-on-number-13/

 

Do join us if you can.

 

 

 

Screening of Black Narcissus (1947), Monday the 4th of November, 6-8pm, the Lupino

Ahead of Paul Mazey’s research seminar on choral music in 1940s British films on the 6th of November (please see the previous post), Black Narcissus (Powell and Pressburger, 1947, 102 mins) will be screened on campus. This will take place on Monday the 4th of November, 6-8pm, in the Lupino.

Frequent collaborators director Michael Powell and writer Emeric Pressburger  adapted Black Narcissus from Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel about a group of nuns who set up a school and hospital in the Himalayas.  Members of the cloistered, and isolated, female community (played by Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron, Flora Robson et al) face traumatic pasts, present struggles, and uncertain futures. These suffering women speak to the core of melodrama. In addition, these women’s religious training means that they repress their feelings, though these inevitably bubble to the surface. Such a structure closely relates to the rhythm often seen in melodrama. Godden’s narrative is afforded additional power by film, as images and sounds contribute effectively to its claustrophobic atmosphere and its ratcheting up of tensions.

The BBC is currently producing Black Narcissus as a Television mini-series. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) describes this as an adaptation of the 1947 film, rather than Godden’s novel. This indicates not just the narrative’s continued relevance, but the impact of  Powell and Pressburger’s Technicolor film.

The film  is being screened by the Lupino Film Club, part of the Film, Media and Culture Research Group.  The Lupino Film Club screens films every Monday night, starting at 6pm. More information about upcoming films can be found on the research group’s blog: https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/fmc-researchgroup/

 

The sceenings are free and open to all.

 

Research Seminar: Paul Mazey on ‘Choral Music in British Cinema 1930s-1950s’, Weds 6th November, 5-7pm, GLT2

Unfortunately we have yet to arrange regular screenings for the term, but we hope many will be able to attend the following exciting event.

We are delighted to be welcoming back Paul Mazey from the University of Bristol. He’ll be delivering a research seminar on Wednesday the 6th of November from 5-7pm. This will take place in Grimond Lecture Theatre 2.

The following blurb is from the School of Arts events calendar (excluding the disturbing Kathleen Byron GIF…) :

Choral voices are a recurring feature on the scores of British films of the 1930s to 1950s, where they conjure the sense of an ethereal presence that intervenes in the human world. This presentation considers how the choral voices heard in British cinema draw upon the tradition of British choral music, in light of their repeated use by composers whose work outside of the film industry includes choral writing, notably William Walton, Brian Easdale and Ralph Vaughan Williams. In particular, it explores examples of choral voices used as a wordless sonority. Wordless voices, freed from religious specificity, are able to project a broader and more inclusive mystical feeling. By analysing their use in such key films as Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger, 1947), Scott of the Antarctic (Charles Frend, 1948) and Gone to Earth (Powell & Pressburger, 1950), this talk will consider the ways that choral voices are used to imbue natural forces with an aura of intention that heightens their influence on characters’ lives and suggests the workings of otherworldly powers.

Paul Mazey is an Associate Teacher of film and television at the University of Bristol. His forthcoming publications include a monograph on musical traditions in British film music, a journal article on the use of opera arias in British comedy films and a chapter (co-authored with Sarah Street) on the piano in melodrama for an edited collection.

After the research seminar, if you would like to join a gathering for dinner, please email Tamar Jeffers McDonald at T.Jeffers-Mcdonald@kent.ac.uk

Everyone welcome.

We hope to see you there!

 

FREE Digitizing the War Illustrated Tea Dance Launch, 7th of September, 2-5pm, Jarman Building

The Melodrama Research Group is delighted that our friends at NoRMMA will be hosting a tea dance as the official launch of their ‘Digitizing The War Illustrated’ archive! The event will take place on  the 7th of September, 2-5pm, in the Jarman building at the University of Kent. The venue is accessible. 

 

 

Attendees will hear about the project, and workshop participants’ experiences of it, have the opportunity to take part in a tea dance led by a qualified instructor to music from World War I, and be offered a tasty afternoon tea.

The event is FREE, but spaces are limited and must be booked. Priority is given to those who have attended the workshops and/or the Progress Day. Please email normma.network@gmail.com to register your interest,

You can find more information on the NoRMMA blog here: http://www.normmanetwork.com/tea-dance-launch-saturday-7th-of-september-2-5pm/

Please note that the venue has been changed from the original one to the Jarman Building. You can find a map of the Jarman Building’s placement on campus here: https://www.kent.ac.uk/maps/canterbury/canterbury-campus/building/jarman-building/jarman-stud-1 

FREE Progress Day, Monday 19th of August, 10am-5pm, Templeman Library

A brief reminder that a FREE Progress Day for the ‘Digitizing The War Illustrated’ project run by NoRMMA will take place on Monday the 19th of August, 10am-5pm, in the Templeman Library.

The day will give those who have already been introduced to the World War I magazine The War Illustrated on the Internet Archive an opportunity to advance their project. An overview of the archive and guidance with searching will also be provided to newcomers. Those who wish to can then present their work at the tea dance launch on the 7th of September – details in the next blog post!

The venue is accessible, and a free lunch will be provided.

Please email normma.network@gmail.com to book a place.

You can find more information on the NoRMMA blog here: http://www.normmanetwork.com/progress-day-monday-19th-of-august-10am-5pm/ 

 

Third Free Digitizing The War Illustrated Workshop 31st of July, 10am-4pm, in Jarman Studio 7

Our third free Digitizing the War Illustrated workshop will take place on the 31st of July, 10am-4pm, in Jarman 7, at the University of Kent.

These National Lottery Heritage Funded workshops introduce participants to the newly available online archive of the important World War I magazine The War Illustrated (1914-1919).

Visit the dedicated Digitizing the War Illustrated page on the NoRMMA blog to find out more information: http://www.normmanetwork.com/digitizing-the-war-illustrated/

You can read a round-up of our first workshop here:  http://www.normmanetwork.com/first-digitizing-the-war-illustrated-workshop-roundup/ 

If you are interested in booking one of the 12 spaces available at the workshop, please email us on normma.network@gmail.com

Second Free Digitizing The War Illustrated Workshop 24th of July, 10am-4pm, in Jarman Studio 7

A quick announcement that the second free Digitizing the War Illustrated Workshop will take place on the 24th of July, 10am-4pm, Jarman 7, at the University of Kent.

These National Lottery Heritage Funded workshops introduce participants to the newly available online archive of the important World War I magazine The War Illustrated (1914-1919).

Visit the dedicated Digitizing the War Illustrated page on the NoRMMA blog to find out more information: http://www.normmanetwork.com/digitizing-the-war-illustrated/

You can read a round-up of our first workshop here:  http://www.normmanetwork.com/first-digitizing-the-war-illustrated-workshop-roundup/ 

If you are interested in booking one of the 12 spaces available at the workshop, please email us on normma.network@gmail.com

FREE History Events at the University of Kent in Canterbury during Summer 2019

We’re taking a break from melodrama over the Summer, to turn attention to a project run by our sister network, NoRMMA (Network of Research: Movies, Magazines and Audiences).

We are delighted that the National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded NoRMMA money for its ‘Digitizing The War Illustrated’ project. The project aims to increase the public’s access to, and engagement with, the important World War I magazine The War Illustrated (1914-1919). By digitizing the magazine’s complete run, and making it available online forever, for all, and for free, we can rediscover these stories of World War I.

Three free workshops will take place at the University of Kent in Canterbury from June to August.  In these, we will introduce participants to the online archive and support them in their own research projects. There will be opportunities for those wishing to gain research skills as well as those looking to enhance current expertise. All venues are accessible, and free refreshments will be supplied.

Participants will be encouraged to attend a ‘progress’ day in August to further discuss their projects. There will also be a chance to attend the tea-dance themed launch of the online archive in September.

The first FREE workshop takes place at the University of Kent in Canterbury on the 27th of June (10am-5pm) and is limited to 12 spaces. Please email normma.network@gmail.com to book your place, or if you have any queries about the events. 

 

For more details please visit:

The NoRMMA blog:

http://www.normmanetwork.com/digitizing-the-war-illustrated/

NoRMMA’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/NoRMMA-Network-of-Research-Movies-Magazines-Audiences-1440475542919996/posts/

The TWI Twitter: @DigitizingTWI