Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Modernizing Melodrama

<ng disparaged as lowbrow and unworthy of critical attention, melodrama receives a fresh look from curators Carol Donelan, professor of cinema and media studies, and Laurel Bradley, director of exhibitions, with input from students enrolled in a course taught fall term at Carleton, “The Melodramatic Imagination.” Rooted in cheap stage shows, circus spectacles and sentimental literature, melodrama matured as a cinematic genre in the early twentieth century. Today, melodramatic plots and devices shape public discourse not only in mass entertainment but also in political campaigns, advertising pitches, and contemporary art productions.

“Modernizing Melodrama” highlights films by directors from the silent screen era, including work by D.W. Griffiths, through 1950s weepies by Douglas Sirk and on to recent action films. The exhibition gathers together objects from various sources, including photographs by Walker Evans and Gilles Peress from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, lobby cards from the New York Public Library, posters and ephemera from the Circus World Museum, and works from regional and east coast artists including Thomas Allen, Xavier Tavera, Renee Cox, Dawn Clements, and Jennifer and Kevin McCoy.

The exhibit also presents a series of projected film loops, featuring brief clips from silent era to present day cinema, setting the stage for a multi-media investigation of themes and techniques: Codifying Emotion: Gesture and Expression looks at methods of representing emotion in the arts and science; Recognizing Virtue: Pathos and Action displays thrilling and chilling visual stories which foreground virtue and villainy; and Encountering Narrative: Moving Pictures, Still Frames traces the migration of filmic narratives to other media including drawings, photographs, and new media sculpture.

“Modernizing Melodrama” will be on exhibit through March 11, 2009.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *