Comparative Melodrama (ACLA 2011, Vancouver, B.C., Mar. 31-Apr. 3)

full name / name of organization: 
Sheetal Majithia
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Cultural criticism and film history once approached melodrama as a failed and lowbrow form of tragedy characterized by excessive rhetoric, one-dimensional characterizations, and schematized moral polarizations. Subsequently, feminist studies re-framed debates about melodrama by studying it as a genre addressed to and about women. Moving from a focus on domestic and family dramas, scholarship of the last few decades now exhibits a newfound interest in melodrama as a mode representative of socio-cultural conditions, particularly in transcolonial and transnational contexts. If as Peter Brooks argues, melodrama is a mode for the modern age, the shift to a considering melodrama in a global framework raises the challenge of understanding melodrama in a comparative framework. How does melodrama articulate a sense of global modernity? How has melodrama's migration from early capitalist Europe been received in distinct local and national cultures? How have vernacular performance traditions mixed with the genre to alter our understanding of melodrama? Has the move from use of melodrama as a woman's genre to its use as the dominant mode through which national consciousness, ideology, and nostalgia are articulated in non-Western culture altered our understanding of it as a genre? How have theorizations of transcolonial and transnational melodrama led to new understandings of the body, affect, and subjectivity? This panel seeks papers interested in charting the field of comparative melodrama studies with a particular focus on theoretical understandings and approaches to its study.

Deadline for Paper Proposals: November 1st, 2010

All paper proposals must be submitted on the ACLA conference website, located at Please select the "Comparative Melodrama" seminar from the menu accessible from this page and your abstract will go directly to the conference organizer. If you have any questions prior to submitting your abstract, please contact Sheetal Majithia,