CFP: Queer(ing) Melodrama (8/1/06; SCMS, 3/8/07-3/11/07)

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2007 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference
Chicago, IL
March 8-11, 2007

I am currently seeking papers for the following panel:

Queer(ing) Melodrama

Recent theories of genre encourage thinking of melodrama not as a singular
generic category, but as a sustained modality in all popular American films
(among other national industries). As such, melodrama would possess a
democratizing potential for personifying social forces within a visual realm, thus
contesting the ideologies and binaries that produce cultural "others."

Meahwhile, amidst a growing number of mainstream Hollywood "queer melodramas"
such as The Hours (Daldry 2002), Far From Heaven (Haynes 2002), and Brokeback
Mountain (Lee 2005), a nascent queer film theory engages the questions of
queer spectatorship, the constitution of queer cinematic imagery, and the
capacities of narrative cinema for establishing queer complicity and resistance.

This panel will examine the overlap of these two domains of critical thought
to ask the question: "Is melodrama queer?" How might melodramatic tension,
in its engagement of pathos and action, retrieve a queer subjectivity? With
the emphasis in melodrama on the corporeal, and its elemental sadomasochism, how
might a "queer" melodrama explicitly address issues of sexual desire.
Ideally, this panel will come to terms with the shared territories of these two
fields of interest, thus revealing the potentialities of melodrama for conveying
homoerotic energy.

Among the possible isssues that can be examined are:

Queer readings of established melodrama auteurs within classical Hollywood
(Griffith, Minnelli, Sirk), international art cinema movements (Truffaut,
Fassbinder, Almodovar), and in recent independent circuits (Campion, Lee, Haynes).

The (in)stability of gender performativity in queer melodrama, particularly
surrounding questions of violent femininity and normative (hetero)sexuality.

Genre hybridity and queer melodrama (particularly the fundamental presence of
monstrous horror, musicality, noir paranoia, and comedy) as cultural process.

The use (and misuse) of the concept of "excess" as a critical register for
emotional legibility in queer melodrama.

Discourses of stardom and star bodies as sites of queer intelligibility and
cultural negotiation in melodrama.

Papers that examine these issues and others are welcome from all critical

Send proposals as MS Word attachments with contact information to Mark C.
Harper at

by 1 August 2006

Please note: all individuals accepted to this panel MUST be registered
online users of the (free and secure) SCMS website by August 15, 2006. For more
information, visit the web address:

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Received on Sat Jul 01 2006 - 07:12:06 EDT