Today’s post was written by library student ambassador America Negrete. America is a second-year Marketing major with a strong interest in Accounting. She works at two separate departments in the library and loves every bit! She also enjoys binging shows on Netflix and pulling all-nighters to read Rick Riordan’s novels.
On February 20, 2018, the LMU community gathered in the library for Faculty Pub Night. Carla Marcantonio (Associate Professor of Film and Television Studies) discussed her recent publication, Global Melodrama: Nation, Body, and History in Contemporary Film (2015).
Before speaking about her book, Marcantonio provided a crash course on melodrama. She started by addressing the fact that melodrama is often viewed in the pejorative and thus keeps us from taking it seriously. Both her presentation and her book introduce her audience to the real implications that melodrama has in a global context. But is melodrama a genre or a mode? For the sake of the presentation, Marcantonio declared it a mode.
To help the audience better understand the concepts of melodrama, Marcantonio played clips from The Muppet Show, Mommie Dearest (1981), Written on the Wind (1956), and Hero (2004). These films display melodrama’s spheres for constructing meaning: home, body, timing (“too late” vs “in the nick of time”), style (expressivity and muteness), and the manichean (dichotomies of good vs evil).
Moving on to her book, Marcantonio divided her discussion by melodramatic tropes. She first discussed the tropes of the body and the manichean paradigm that are present in Talk to Her (2002) and The Skin I Live In (2011). She then moved on to discuss the trope of temporality of 2046 (2004) and In the Mood for Love (2000). One example Marcantonio highlighted from In the Mood for Love, is that Maggie Cheung’s costume changes help the audience identify the passage of time. Next, she discussed the idea of the geographical border between two countries as a feminine space in The Bubble (2006) and Babel (2006). One example Marcantonio gave from this pair of films is that bullets are seen as metaphors for the violence of globalization. Finally, Marcantonio discussed Colossal Youth (2006) and The World, which display the melodramatic trope of the body.
To wrap up her presentation, Marcantonio offered one final thought: melodrama is not just an exaggerated genre with bad guys and good guys. Melodrama is doing important global and political work. Her book delves into a more in depth analysis and discussion of these ideas. Students in attendance had nothing but praise for Marcantonio’s presentation. First year film student, Carla, stated that the night’s event was “exactly what [she] wanted it to be.” She believes it is very important to study films because there is nothing else that reflects everyday life so accurately. Many attendees also stated that the presentation was very easy to follow despite limited knowledge on the subject. This is something that Marcantonio worked hard to ensure.
Film enthusiasts and professionals who were unable to attend the event definitely missed out on Marcantonio’s expertise and commentary. Evidenced by the standing ovation, the overall presentation was enjoyable and thought-provoking. We cannot thank Professor Marcantonio enough for sharing her passion and knowledge with the LMU community!
Thank you, America, for sharing your perspective with us!