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Unit information: Melodrama in 2015/16

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Unit name Melodrama
Unit code DRAM20054
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Hindson
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Theatre
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Melodrama and melodramatic conventions dominated the theatrical repertoire of the nineteenth century. Across a century and a half, the plays, theatres, audiences and stagings of melodrama varied significantly; and distinct themes and issues were explored in the changing genre. In this unit students will consider a wide range of melodramatic texts and productions from the Gothic drama of the late-eighteenth century to the society melodramas of Pinero and Wilde at the end of the nineteenth century. The unit will end with an exploration of early screen melodrama. Each performance text will be considered in its social, historical and theatrical contexts. Students will examine questions of class, identity, urbanisation, gender and crime in melodrama, and develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of, and critical frameworks for, working with popular theatrical culture. Students will use primary archival and secondary critical material to develop their own understanding of melodrama and its place within theatrical history.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have:

(1) developed their knowledge and critical understanding of the sub genres of melodrama, including gothic, nautical, social and society melodramas.

(2) developed their understanding of the changing social and historical conditions that informed and produced stage melodramas.

(3) acquired archival skills: locating material on a catalogue, calling up material, using some un-catalogued material.

(4) the ability to understand and evaluate critical responses to melodrama and to consider these in the context of wider understandings of popular culture.

(5) the ability to locate and explore primary and secondary material to create and sustain a cogent academic argument in presentation and essay formats.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour seminar per week; seminar presentations.

Assessment Information

(1) 2500-word essay (60%): ILOs 1-5

(2) seminar presentation (in pairs; fifteen minutes) and accompanying handout, for a group mark (40%): ILOs 1-5.

Detailed criteria for essays and seminar presentations are available in the Theatre handbook, which is available on Blackboard. The accompanying handout must include a bibliography for the presentation.

Reading and References

Barefoot, Guy (2001) Gaslight Melodrama: From Victorian London to 1940s Hollywood. London: Continuum

Bratton, Jacqueline S, Jim Cook and Christine Gledhill, eds. (1994) Melodrama: Stage, Picture, Screen. London: BFI

Hyslop, Gabrielle (1985) ‘Deviant and Dangerous Behaviour: Women in Melodrama’ Journal of Popular Culture 19:3, 65-78

Nikopoulou, A. (1999) Melodrama: The Cultural Emergence of a Genre. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

Savran, David (2004) ‘Towards a Historiography of the Popular’ Theatre Survey 2, 211-17