Considered for centuries a marginal dramatic genre straddling the high and low-mimetic modes, with the seminal essay The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess (1976) by Peter Brooks melodrama has been credited the status of a dominant narrative form of mass culture. It is now clear that melodrama is a declination of modern imagination oriented to elaborate plots marked by a sharp ethical polarization, by an uninhibited taste for excess (lingering in absolute and devouring passions, as well as in extreme situations to the limit of representability) and by a smug aesthetic of amazement: in short a Manichean and boosted device which from the late Eighteenth century vaudeville spreads, during the Nineteenth century, in opera, in the currents of visionary, historical and social romantic painting, in the realist, naturalist, decadent novel, touching the modernist one, and, during the Twentieth century, explodes in the cinematic melo and then in the television seriality.
Literary studies, visual studies, film studies and television studies offer today many glances. sometimes contradictory, but always stimulating, on this complex phenomenon which has always been transversal to codes, genres and media.
Starting from the study of the historical origins of melodrama, the forthcoming issue of Testo a fronte aims at stimulating research contributions able to focus on its meta-historical, theoretical and intermedia dimension, studying in depth the most resilient archetypical structures and the evolving practices of the contemporary melodramatic universe. What about melodrama in after-postmodernism literary fiction, with its massive return to typically modern mimetic forms? What about melodrama in movies after the crisis of the Hollywood system of genres? What about melodrama in the very articulate system of genres and sub-genres of television fiction? What about melodrama in painting beyond abstraction and in general in the age of digital art?
We invite submissions from different scholar perspectives; possible topics can include but are not limited to:
– reconstruction of important moments in the history of melodrama
– identification and description of the archetypal and metahistorical features of melodrama
– implementation of the notion of melodramatic imagination
– definition and mapping of the intermedia dimension of melodrama
– analysis of melodramatic (literary, visual, audiovisual etc.) texts
Proposals, in Italian or in English (max 400 words), should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org, by February 10th, 2019. Please attach a brief biography (maximum 150 words) and an optional selected bibliography (up to 5 titles) relevant to the issue theme.
Notification of acceptance will be sent to authors by February 20th, 2019.
Full papers will be due June 20th, 2019 and will be submitted to double blind peer review.