Posted by Sarah
The Melodrama Research Group is very pleased to welcome Matt Buckley, Rutgers University, to give a talk entitled ‘On Melodrama as a Modern Art’ on Tuesday the 25th of March, in GLT3, from 5-6 pm.
Just fifty years ago, melodrama was regarded, if at all, whether on stage, film, or tv, as a negligible, ephemeral, antiquated form of drama, a laughable thing, enjoyed by the poor, the illiterate, and the naïve—a thing, most importantly, perhaps, that modern realism had, or surely would soon, make obsolete and supersede. Today, it is starkly apparent that such dismissals were acts of monumental misperception. In theatre history, film and television studies, cultural history and narrative theory; in studies of the novel, the detective story, science fiction, and popular literature in general; of the vaudeville, the musical, silent film, and Hollywood cinema, and in the vast and diverse histories of popular literature, cinema, and television worldwide, we find melodrama everywhere. And melodrama is not only modernity’s dominant narrative form: it has become a kind of meme that has penetrated and suffused the modern world. As a now substantial body of scholarship has made evident, its assumptions and conventions color our fictive drama in every medium and mode, tacitly inflect our political and social performance, implicitly structure our narrative construction of events in the press and in our lives, and appear even to inform our apprehension of external reality and our consciousness of self.
In this talk, I try to come to terms with this emergent history, first by looking to melodrama’s origins and early development in an effort to discern more clearly what makes melodrama distinctive, and then by outlining the primary methods and processes that appear to characterize its development over time, its adaptation to new contexts and media, and its penetration and suffusion of discourse, imagination, and mind. In closing, I explore the challenges this emergent view of melodrama’s larger history presents to traditional research methods and perspectives, and suggest some of the ways in which those might be overcome.
Matt Buckley’s Bio:
Matthew Buckley is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where he teaches courses on comparative drama, media, and visual culture in modernity. He is the author of Tragedy Walks the Streets: The French Revolution in the Making of Modern Drama (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) and has published articles on radical dramatic aesthetics, embodiment in early modern theatre, and the history and historiography of early melodrama in Modern Drama, Theatre Survey, Theatre Journal, Studies in Romanticism, and Victorian Studies. He is currently at work on two books: Becoming Melodramatic, a study of the formal and cultural development of early stage melodrama, and Place of Seeing, a series of essays on theatre iconography and visual performance between 1580 and 1880. He is the founding director of the Melodrama Research Consortium, an international interdisciplinary organization devoted to the comparative study of stage, film, television, and new media melodrama. He is now developing a digital database project on the emergence of melodramatic theatre in Britain, France, Germany, and America.
More details will be posted to the blog in due course.
Do put the date in your diaries, and please note that our planned meeting on the 26th of March will no longer take place.