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Captive Affects, Elastic Sufferings, Vicarious Objects in Melodrama―Refiguring Melodrama by Agustin Zarzosa

minhwa ahn 1

1한국예술종합학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper argues how the concept of melodrama can be articulated with the Affect Theory and Posthumanism in relation to animal or environment representation which have emerged as the new topics of the recent era. The argument will be made through the discussion of Agustin Zarzosa’s book, Refiguring Melodrama in Film and Television: Captitve Affects, Elastic Sufferings, Vicarious Objects. Using a genealogical approach, the book revisits the notion of mode, affect, suffering (hysteria), and excess which have been dealt with in the existing studies of melodrama. In chapter one, he broadens the concept of melodrama as a mode into the means of redistribution of suffering across the whole society in the mechanism of the duo of evil and virtue. It is the opposition of Brooks’s argument in which melodrama functions as the means of proving the distinction between evil and virtue. Chapter two focuses on the fact that melodrama is an elastic system of specification rather than a system of signification, with the perspective of Deleuzian metaphysics. Through the analysis of Home from the Hill (Vincente Minnelli, 1959), this chapter pays attention to an ‘affect’ generated by the encounters between the bodies and the Mise-en-Scène as a flow not of a meaning but of an affect. Chapter three argues that melodrama should reveal an unloved (woman’s) suffering, opposing the discussion on the role of melodrama as the recovery of moral order. Safe (Todd Haynes, 1995), dealing with female suffering caused by the industrial and social environment, elaborates on the arguments on melodrama in relation to female hysteria with ecocritical standpoints. The rest of the two chapters discusses the role of melodrama for the limitation and extension of the notion of the human through ‘animal’ and ‘posthuman’ melodrama. It argues that the concept of melodrama as ‘excess’ and ‘sacrifice’ blurs the boundary between human and inhuman. In summary, although the author Zarzosa partly agrees with Peter Brook’s notion of mode, affect and sufferings,he elaborates the concept of melodrama, by articulating philosophical arguments such as Deleuzianism, feminism, and posthumanism (Akira Lippit and Carry Wolf) with the melodrama. Thefore, Zarzosa challenges the concepts of melodrama led by Brooks, which had been canonical in the field.

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