The students will
• become familiar with the role of nineteenth-century American theatre as a powerful political and ideological tool through the study of both the aesthetics and ideological parameters inherent in these melodramatic plays which focus upon a number of contentious issues of the time such as nationalism and political propaganda, slavery, the myth of the American West, women’s position in American society, the emergence of class and ethnic hierarchies.
• become acquainted with the social, political, and cultural discourses of the nineteenth century from which melodrama sprang and to which it contributed.
• develop reading, writing, and speaking skills by means of textual analysis, essay-writing, and in-class oral assignments.
• develop their critical ability by drawing connecting lines with the role of melodrama (theatre, film, media) in contemporary society and its impact on the mentality and psychology of the people
Course Content (Syllabus)
The aim of this course is to introduce students to the genre of melodrama, the most widely-accepted form of popular entertainment on the nineteenth-century American stage. The students will study a number of early American melodramas ranging from Royall Tyler’s The Contrast (1787) to George A. Aiken’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), Anna Cora Mowatt’s Fashion (1845), Bartley Campbell’s My Partner (1879), and others.
American popular culture, melodrama, society, theatre, audience, ideology
Additional bibliography for study
Barefoot, Guy. Gaslight Melodrama: from Victorian London to 1940s Hollywood.
Brooks, Peter. The Melodramatic Imagination.
Cavell, Stanley. Contesting Tears: the Hollywood Melodrama of the Unknown
Gerould, Daniel C. American Melodrama.
Grimsted, David. Melodrama Unveiled: American Theatre and Culture, 1800-1850.
Hays, Michael. Melodrama: The Cultural Emergence of a Genre.
Kaplan, E. Ann. Motherhood and Representation: the mother in popular culture and
Karnick, Kristine Brunovska. Classical Hollywood Comedy.
Landy, Marcia. Imitations of Life: a reader on film & television melodrama.
McConachie, Bruce A. Melodramatic Formations: American Theatre and Society,
Mason, Jeffrey D. Melodrama and the Myth of America.
Πατσαλίδης, Σάββας. Μελόδραμα Ειδολογικοί και Ιδεολογικοί Μετασχηματισμοί.
Randall, Charles H. Hisses, boos & cheers; or, a practical guide to the planning,
producing, and performing melodrama.
Williams, Linda. Playing the Race card: melodramas of Black and white from Uncle
Tom to O. J. Simpson.