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Undergraduate English Courses

354:371 Film Melodrama

01  TTH5   CAC     FLITTERMAN-LEWIS  MI-100
      W 7,8           FILM SCREENING                MI-100

Melodrama

To some extent, all Hollywood film is melodramatic and for one critic,”the family is Hollywood’s one true subject.” From its beginnings, film melodrama has represented crises in familial relations–whether these be of individual identity, of gender roles and sexuality, or of family harmony challenged by external forces. Melodrama articulates problems of passion, desire and emotional excess in a form that has come to be understood as “peculiarly American.” We will begin with the notion of genre as a way of categorizing Hollywood production and then look at individual films to determine the ways in which film melodrama combines social, psychic, and artistic elements to dramatize the contradictions of class, race, gender, and family in American culture.

Films will include early works that established the tradition ( Way Down East, Broken Blossoms, Sunrise), maternal melodramas (Stella Dallas), melodramas of female desire and sexuality (Guest in the House, Rebecca), as well as those 50's films by Douglas Sirk seen to be the culmination of the form (Imitation of Life, All That Heaven Allows, Written on the Wind).

Requirements: A midterm, a final, one paper