Waves of Horror Festival this Halloween Weekend

Hi all,

A reminder that Kat’s fabulously scary Waves of Horror Festival will take place over this Halloween weekend on the University of Kent Canterbury campus.

waves of horror

Here’s a link to a search on Waves of Horror on the Gulbenkian Cinema’s website for those feeling brave enough! : http://www.thegulbenkian.co.uk/search/?q=waves+of+horror

Also see their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Waves-of-Horror-Film-Festival-736601073018188/

And the twitter account:  https://twitter.com/WavesofHorror?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Turning the Page Conference on Fan Magazines in Ghent, 12-14th November 2015

Hi all,

As implied by the previous post on Rebecca, this  term while focusing on the Gothic Film we will be analysing the representation of some of the female stars of these in Fan Magazines. We are doing so in partnership with our lovely fellow Kent bloggers at NoRMMA (Network of Research: Movies, Magazines, Audiences).


Turning the Page poster

Above is the fabulous poster advertising the Turning the Page conference on Digitalization, Movie Magazines  and Historical Audience Studies which  NoRMMA has co-organised with academics from Ghent University.

This  will take place from the 12th-14th of November 2015 in Ghent, Belgium.

You can find more information on the conference (including the possibility of attending!) and NoRMMA more generally on their fantastic blog:


Melodrama Screening and Discussion, 26th of October, 4.30-7pm, Jarman 7

All are very welcome to join us for the first of this term’s screening and discussion sessions, which will take place on Monday the 26th of October, 4.30-7pm, in Jarman 7.

The first of our Gothic season is Rebecca (1940, Alfred Hitchcock, 130 mins).

Modern Screen May 1940 Rebecca ad modernscreen2021unse_0421

According to a review in the June 1940 issue of the Fan Magazine Hollywood, the film is the ‘story of a young bride who was haunted by the mystery and by the memory of her husband’s first wife, Rebecca’ (p. 16). Above is an advertisement for Rebecca from the May 1940 issue of the Fan Magazine Modern Screen (p. 12). The artwork and text of this advertisement keys us to several of the film’s melodramatic themes, adding to the information provided by the review. (You can find these, and other Fan Magazine treasures, on the wonderful Lantern search facility of the Media History Digital Library website: http://lantern.mediahist.org/)

The presence, and positon and size of the illustration of the two stars is instructive. The large head and shoulders portrait is placed centrally. The wide-eyed facial expression of the second Mrs De Winter is in keeping with the ‘woman in peril’ theme of the Gothic we are focusing on this term. Significantly, underneath the credits it is noted that this is the ‘sensational starring debut’ of Joan Fontaine. This chimes with her character’s naïve, unknowing initial state and her eagerness to uncover the truth.

Laurence Olivier is more straightforwardly billed as previously being the ‘hero’ of Wuthering Heights. Rebecca is also an adaptation, but of a more recent popular novel by Daphne Du Maurier. The illustration of Olivier is suitably moody given Maxim De Winter’s complex character and contrasts to Fontaine’s concerned expression.

A figure we might presume represents the first Mrs De Winter appears in the top right hand corner, and unlike the film’s stars she is afforded a full-length presence which shows off her evening gown, with a hand resting nonchalantly on her left hip. Her face is obscured into nothingness, however, heightening the sense of mystery. Our interest is further piqued by the tagline which focuses on the suffering of the couple: ‘The Shadow of this Woman DARKENED THEIR LOVE!’

The Manderley estate, the subject of Du Maurier’s novel’s famous opening line, ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’, is also prominently placed. This is seen just underneath the looming figure of Rebecca, indicating that she continues to ‘haunt’ the house.

Do join us if you can – the intersection of stardom, male and female relations, Gothic tropes and domestic space will provide lots of food for thought.



Additional resources

Mary Anne Doane’s chapter “Female Spectatorship and the Machines of Projection: Caught and Rebecca.” The Desire to Desire: The Woman’s Film of the 1940s (1987): 155-175.

Lisa M. Dresner’s chapter “A Case Study of Rebecca”.  The Female Investigator in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture (2006): 154-182.

You can find more information on these articles on our additional blog (https://melodramaresearchgroupextra.wordpress.com/) or email me at  sp458@kent.ac.uk

Katie Grant’s fantastic audio-visual essay ‘Voluptuous Masochism: Gothic Melodrama Studies in Memory of Joan Fontaine’ is  on her Film Studies For Free blog:




Melodrama Research Consortium Website

Hi all,

Just a reminder to check out the Melodrama Research Consortium’s website: http://melodramaresearchconsortium.org/

The Melodrama Research Consortium was founded by Matt Buckley and brings together scholars from several disciplines to foster collaborative networks for studying this pervasive, but challenging, genre. One of its undertakings is the Melodrama Database Project. This will rely on contributions from members to provide data  which allows for the genre to be mapped in space and time.

Matt recently emailed all members to update us on exciting developments and to emphasise that new members are always welcome. You can take advantage of this fantastic opportunity  via this link to the Consortium’s website:





Leaving Comments on the Blog

Hi all,

As we are currently on a short break from Melodrama Research Group activity (I hope you’ve all enjoyed Easter/Passover!) I thought it might be helpful to recap the process for leaving comments. Such comments are always welcome and need not be limited to the most recent posts. Do feel free to search for a topic that interests you in the search box at the top right hand corner of the main page, or indeed click on a tag from the tag cloud on the right hand side of the main page  or at the bottom of posts to follow a tag’s history. You can  then add your thoughts. Recent comments always appear on the right hand corner of the main blog page, below the list of recent posts.  This means that others can see which discussions have been contributed to recently.

If you are accessing the blog off-site, away from the Kent campus, you must first set up a VPN. You can do so via this link which explains the process :http://www.kent.ac.uk/itservices/home/index.html  (A Kent login is required)

To leave  a comment, click on the ‘comment bubble’ to the right of the heading on the blog post you wish to comment on, or click ‘Leave a Reply’ which appears at the bottom of the post, after the tags. You are then asked to log in. To do so, fill in your Kent login (part of your Kent email address) and password.

comment bubble images

If you do not have a Kent login you can also email a message direct to me on sp458@kent.ac.uk and I can leave it on the blog on your behalf.

All comments left on the blog pass through the moderator, so there can be a short delay before they are published.

As ever, do feel free to contact me for any further information.


Pam Cook’s essay ‘Text, Paratext, Subtext’ in SEQUENCE

Frances has also mentioned the exciting news of the recent publication of Pam Cook’s essay ‘Text, Paratext and Subtext’ in the online journal SEQUENCE. We were very happy to welcome Pam to speak on this subject of Mildred Pierce in its many forms at our Maternal Melodrama Symposium last May.

MP TV seriesThe following invitation to read Pam’s essay was written by REFRAME editor Dr Catherine Grant of the University of Sussex:

‘Writer-director Todd Haynes has previously recounted how film scholar Pam Cook’s 1978 foundational article “Duplicity in MILDRED PIERCE” informed his 2011 HBO miniseries adaptation of James M. Cain’s novel (an effective remaking of Michael Curtiz’ 1945 film). Now, in her new essay for the open access serial SEQUENCE (a REFRAME publication), Cook turns her attention to Haynes’ miniseries and its intertextual chain of makings and remakings, and explores, in particular, how we come to read it (or any other audiovisual artefact) as “maternal melodrama.” Her essay is online here:  http://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/sequence2/archive/sequence-2-2/.’

Do log in to comment, or email me on sp458@kent.ac.uk to add your thoughts, including any other melodrama links you’d like to add to the blog.

BFI Event on Female Stardom on 7th of March

Frances has very kindly drawn the Melodrama Research Group’s attention to an event taking place at the BFI on the 7th of March.

BFI Female Stardom event

The BFI invitation: ‘Join us for this special one-day course looking at the political and cultural questions raised by the dynamic careers of various female screen stars. Featuring illustrated presentations, film clips and extended discussions, we’ll assess stars of the 20s and 30s such as Marlene Dietrich, through to contemporary icons such as Jennifer Lawrence. As we study their performances and public personas, the ideas of leading thinkers in film studies and gender theory such as Laura Mulvey and Jacqueline Rose will also be considered. At the heart of our discussions will be Katharine Hepburn’s own fascinating career and how it helped shape notions of stardom and gender today.’

For more information, including a schedule of the BFI’s season of Katharine Hepburn films  and a link to buy tickets, please visit the BFI website:


Do log in to comment, or email me on sp458@kent.ac.uk to add your thoughts, including any other melodrama links you’d like to add to the blog.

The Double Theme for this Term’s Screenings

Hi all,

Following some discussion on this matter last term, which culminated in our wonderful trip to the British Library’s exhibition on The Gothic, we will be screening some films focusing on The Double this term.


We begin with The Dark Mirror (Robert Siodmak, 1946, 85 mins) on the 26th of January, 5-7pm, Jarman 7. An introduction to this film will be posted soon.

As ever, all are welcome to attend our screening and discussion sessions. More information on other films to be screened this term will be available in due course.

The Women Screening at the Gulbenkian 13th of October, 7pm

Posted by Sarah

Following the launch of NoRMMA, outlined in the below post, the Gulbenkian is screening the Hollywood classic The Women (1939, George Cukor). This film stars numerous Divine Divas, including Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell, who were the subjects of many a Fan Magazine article. The film will be introduced with an illustrated talk by Lies Lanckman.

The Women

For more information and to book your tickets please go to: http://www.thegulbenkian.co.uk/events/cinema/2014/October/2014-10-the-women.html

Launch of Network of Research: Movies, Magazines and Audiences on 13th of October, Jarman Foyer, 6-7pm

Posted by Sarah


An exciting new University of Kent Research Group – the Network of Research: Movies, Magazines and Audiences (NoRMMA) – will be launched on the 13th of October, in Jarman Foyer from 6-7pm. All are welcome to view the exhibition of Fan Magazine material and to discuss the aims and interests of the group.

If you are interested in attending the launch please RSVP to normma.network@gmail.com

For further information, please see the NoRMMA blog: http://blogs.kent.ac.uk/normma/