Communication and Culture | Media Genres (Topic: American Film Melodrama: Gender and Genre)
C592 | 20212 | Doty, A.

Tu, 4:00 PM-6:30 PM, C2 272

Meets with GNDR-G 701
Open to Graduates Only!

Instructor: Alex Doty
Office: C2 251
Phone: 856-4928

While the perception of melodrama as a “woman’s genre” has become
widespread since the late 20th century (at least in the Western
world), more and more contemporary academic work has questioned both
the gender and genre labels attached to film melodrama.  Indeed,
from early silent cinema to the 1940s, a wide range of films,
appealing to men and women, were discussed as “melodramas.”  More
than anything else, it was film scholarship on “the melodrama” in
the 1970s and 1980s that made the case for “melodrama” as a genre
limited to dramas about (white, heterosexual) couples and families,
as well as one specifically marketed to a female audience. This
course will examine the American film melodrama from the silent
period to the present, and will consider melodrama as both a
foundational form for all American film dramas, as well as a
distinct genre, with such “subgenres” as the fallen woman film, the
maternal melodrama, the family melodrama, and the male melodrama.
This course will also consider what happens when women, gay men,
lesbians, and people of color work in film melodrama.  Among the
film studied will be Broken Blossoms, Blonde Venus, Stella Dallas,
Letter from an Unknown Woman, All that Heaven Allows, Rebel without
a Cause, Far from Heaven, Philadelphia, Titanic, and Eve’s Bayou.
There is a weekly film viewing required, as well as a seminar
presentation, two short papers, and a final long essay.