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Melodrama, the Paradox of Modern Imagination Coordinating Moral Norms and Emotions―Based on the Developmental Approach

Jungok Lee 1

1숙명여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Since the birth of melodrama in the early Enlightenment era, it has flowed through various cultures and media. In order to grasp the principle of differentiation of melodrama and the direction of its change, a developmental approach to the formation process of melodrama is necessary. In this regard, this paper examines the formation process of modern melodrama and its aesthetic features around the time of the French Revolution. The modern melodrama was formed in the period between the end of the 18th century and the start of the 19th century. It was born at the intersectional point of the contradictions of the modern imagination and the political paradox of the French Revolution, which demanded an autonomous citizenship but did not recognize a woman as a citizen. The aesthetic of women’s sacrifice and tears reproduced in the modern melodrama is a political aspiration to restore a corrupt society by glamorizing a woman as a moral icon. This was an icon to save a society under divide and crisis and a coordination of emotions to conceal sexist violence in the politics of the exclusion of women. The aesthetic of women’s sacrifice and tears reproduced in modern melodrama has consistently been considered under negative evaluation such as a play of moral hypocrisy and vulgar drama. However, the academic interest in melodrama in the 1970s has been amplified due to the "Sirk-melo" which is a transition to the new aesthetic of women’s sacrifice and tears, encompassing not only women, but also races and classes. In modern society, entering the era of uncertainty, where various social problems, national disasters, and global disasters have become commonplace, ‘the aesthetic of women’s sacrifice and tears’ are shifting from gender differences to various victim narratives. Reviewing new theoretical trends and changes of recent melodrama as well as analyzing specific works are left as follow-up tasks.Since the birth of the melodrama in the early Enlightenment era, it has flowed through various cultures and media. In order to grasp the principle of differentiation of melodrama and the direction of its change, a developmental approach to the formation process of melodrama is basically necessary. In this regard, this paper examines the formation process of modern melodrama and its aesthetic features around the time of the French Revolution.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.