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Modernism and Melodrama (MSA 17)

Peter Brooks has claimed that nineteenth-century melodrama responds to the disappearance of the sacred in every day life; its goal is to produce readability by exploiting the “plastic figurability of emotion, its shaping as a visible and almost tactile entity.” The resulting visual context, populated by the mute, the disfigured, and the paralytic, involves an excess of signification that hyperbolizes ethical conflict, consistently pressuring the signified, for access to the “immediate behind,” toward an ideal of complete expression. How might modernist texts exploit this genre or reorganize its codes, particularly in their commentary on ethics, expression, and the nature of personhood? Since the goal of melodrama is to produce readability, how might we think of modernist illegibility as an ethics? What is the relation between modernist melodrama and the history of emotional expression? What relevance does melodrama have for thinking about disability? What is the relationship between melodrama and modernist form, more generally?

This panel welcomes papers on any or all of these topics. Of interest are papers that address the conference theme, the question of ethics, or the relation between melodramatic modernist form and various shifts in the history of expression.

Please send a 150-200 word abstract plus a brief bio by April 3, 2015 to rchllrives@gmail.com


Conference Location: Boston, USA
Conference Starts: November 19, 2015
Conference Ends: November 22, 2015

CFP Submission Deadline: April 03, 2015

For more information, contact: Rochelle Rives

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