Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wiki Assignments

okay guys, so this is pretty much what we discussed in class. We still need an idea for one more page, and I'll propose a couple here, but yeah just comment your thoughts if you want to change this/ who is going to take what page.

1- Sinclair's Writing/ Research Process KATRINA
--Melodramatic Elements--
2. Victim-Hero: Anker/Williams CODY
3. Justification of Violence: Manifesto et al CARLOS
4. Black and White, polarization: Uncle Tom/ Williams
5. Reaction to Modernity: Singer, Williams SHEENA
6. Secularization and Religious void: Singer, Williams, Marx SAM
7. Political Change caused by The Jungle VIRGINIA
8. Cultural Change caused by The Jungle AJAY
--Modern Equivalencies--
--Other Stuff--Sinclair's writing--
12. Sinclair's other texts AARON
13. The significance of the "edition" e.g. uncensored, extended, and what not HELEN
14. We have nothing for this right now but I suggest one of Izzy's ideas that we discuss how it's narrative/ novel format impacted its reception (slyly was muckraking) or we could look at Sinclair's critics, or we could compare his melodrama with other sensationalist journalism of the time. 

People who still need to be assigned to a page: Chelsea, Nick



My Websites

hub page: codyperez.weebly.com
project page: educationaldisparities.weebly.com

My Websites

Main Site: http://josephnorth.weebly.com

Project Site: http://collegediversity.weebly.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Prezi SS


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Melodrama Pppt


Melodrama in American Media

Melodrama in American Media by Virginia Spinks



Melodrama in Media


Media Prezi.


Melodrama in Media


Melodrama in Media Powerpooint


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The birth of a nation


2 more answers

Virginia’s question #3

The rescue/escape motif in melodrama is still prominent today.  When a character feels hopeless or trapped, like the odds are stacked against him, much more pathos is created for the reader/viewer.  While rescue/escape is played out and characterizes thousands of plots over the centuries, it is still an effective and powerful tool in modern melodrama and will continue to be.  Every television drama and many movies employ this today.  Grey’s Anatomy had a shooter who took hostages, One Tree Hill had a stalker tie girls up and attempted murder in a basement.  Even comedies employ this tactic to increase the melodramatic feel.  For example, in How I Met Your Mother when Robin is trapped in Barney’s apartment closet she isn’t scared for her life but still calls her friends for a rescue.  Even in real life rescue/escape stories provide sensational news stories, from the coal miners in South America to the rescue of three young women and their children in Cleveland, Ohio that had been kidnapped up to a decade before.

Gideon’s question #2

My first opinion was that Williams was a cynical academic lacking the patriotism necessary to truly get pumped for the Olympics.  But upon further reflection, I realized she definitely has a point.  Broadcasting an athlete’s personal struggles that they had to overcome definitely employs melodramatic qualities.  Williams explains,  “sensationalism produced a popular culture fascinated with pain and suffering,” (20).  As a society we are drawn to stories that tug on our heartstrings.  We root for the underdog.

Birth of a Nation storify - Sheena, Chelsea, and Izzy




Storify of Birth of a Nation


2 more answers

Sheena Q# 3

I believe that the pathos and action in most award-winning films allow them to "aggressively grab and move spectators" which Tom Gunning encourages in film making. While comedies can still be great, entertaining movies, their lack of pathos and action often make it difficult to provoke meaningful reactions from audiences which is a key characteristic of an Oscar-winning film.

Virginia Q# 1

 I think that division and unity go hand in hand. When there is a divide amongst two groups, peoples' commonalities often serve as a uniting force. For example, the communist manifesto divided the society into two classes, the proletariat and buorgeosie, but it simultaneously unified all the proletariat. By using the simplifying melodramatic principles of labeling groups as either good or bad, the communist manifesto made the enemy easily identifiable.


Birth of a Nation Reaction http://sfy.co/tOQ0


Birth of A Nation Storify--with Joseph and Cody


More Answers!!!

Cody's Question #2:

   I love this question. Because of melodrama's inherent pitting of "good v. evil," I think that it is above all, polarizing. I actually asked a similar question that asked whether or not melodrama could be unifying. I think that it can be seen through Griffith's  Birth of A Nation, that melodrama most certainly can create unity, however I have yet to see an example of a melodrama that doesn't unify in opposition to something or someone. I think that it would be hard to create a melodrama that would create peace and solidarity among all. For example, Williams talks about "moral legibility" in being an important aspect of melodrama, and that "melodrama focuses on victim-heroes and on recognizing their virtue." Many philosophers would argue that you cannot have good without evil, to compare it to. If this dialectic that Williams speaks about is fundamental, as it appears to be in just about every melodrama that she cites--Way Down East, Titanic, Uncle Tom's Cabin, etc.-- then I think that by nature, melodrama necessarily must pit factions against one another, while effectively unifying the factions of one side. A duality can be seen: perhaps melodrama is both unifying and polarizing at the same time.

Chelsea's Question #1:

      The reason that sentimentality in art and literature "doesn't appeal" to the elite classes, is that it admits a sort of melodramatic nostalgia that many of the "elite" don't wish to admit that they have. In a way, admitting that one is moved by the sentimentality created by melodrama is also admitting weakness. If one looks at Marx, the upper class does not wish to relinquish power, and admitting that one is moved by the same fear of modernity and longing to return to a "space of innocence," would be relinquishing that power psychologically. At least, this is the argument that might be made. However, I do not believe that the upper classes are not moved by melodrama. In fact, melodrama appeals to such raw human feeling, such fundamental timeless issues--passing time, feeling victimized, good v. evil--that it would be impossible for anyone of any class not to be moved by "sentimentality." It might be more embarrassing for a person of the "god-like" upper classes to admit to  being moved by this sentimentality, but the appeal of melodrama is universal to all people's psyches. The appeal of melodrama might change depending on what context one lives in, or what role one plays in society, but it must appeal nonetheless, else it would not exist. 

Birth of a Nation Storify


My Storify


My Storify


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Only got to One Q in class

Williams' argument throughout Playing the Race Card is that melodrama has been a critical component in the perpetuation of race relations in America, and Marx uses melodrama as a mode through which to organize a political revolution.  Because of the "good vs. evil" inherent in melodrama, do you think that it is possible for it to promote peace or solidarity?  Or do you believe that melodrama is most effective in pitting people against each other?

  Williams notes that ‘realism’ can be added into melodrama to create a modern, functional mode to tell a story that is both realistic (applicable to promoting peace) and melodramatic. Williams makes it clear that the Anti-Tom groups used melodrama expertly to rewrite history for their own benefit, but it was also used to show the plight of slaves in the original Tom shows. Just because something can be used as a weapon, does not mean that it also cannot be a catalyst of ‘good’. Williams foreshadows the use of melodrama in attempts to further racial hierarchies and end racial injustice; it is used as a weapon of evil, and a tool for the common good.Melodrama can be used to promote peace and solidarity, though, it often is not. There are times in life when we are faced with an ‘enemy’ that does possess some true, inherent, evil. However, it must be recognized that there are underpinnings of humanity in all events and that completely demonizing an enemy is extremely dangerous.

2 More

2.  I think that taking revenge on a villain would not be considered morally good.  It is generally thought that revenge involves a very big "stooping down to their level" component, which makes the person exacting revenge just as bad as the person who had initially wronged them.  I think that not getting revenge, and rather "taking the high road" of not reciprocating and rather allowing the universe to bring some poetic justice is what would be considered by most to be "morally good".  However, I think that it when a character takes down the villain not out of revenge, but rather in the name of saving themselves, another person, or society as a whole would be universally considered to be morally good.

I think that the overarching plot and message of Uncle Tom's Cabin goes completely over the heads of the young audiences that typically watch Mickey Mouse, regardless of the incorporation of comedy into its portrayal. The comedy allows these audiences to be able to derive enjoyment simply from the fact that they are watching a funny cartoon, without knowing the true context behind it.  Because of their ignorance of the full history and consequences of slavery and subsequently Uncle Tom's Cabin, I think it would be inappropriate only in that there are images that some might want to shelter their children from until they reach a certain age, and that the message would be lost on an audience who couldn't appreciate it.

Answer to Another Question

In response to Sheena's question:

3) In Playing the Race Card, Williams frequently mentions that effective melodramas offer a combination of pathos and action. Earlier this year in class it was mentioned that comedies often do not win Oscars over dramas and thrilling action films. Do you think that the lack of pathos and action in comedies plays a significant role in their failure to win frequent Oscars?

 Pathos and action give audiences' the idea that the hero will be "too late" or "in the nick of time" to save the day (Williams 30). These two concepts can also be in comedies; however, comedies use the perils of the hero to cause humorous moments. Rather than create sympathy towards the hero when he or she is just too late to save the lady in distress, a comedy will make it a humorous event out of it. This causes a break in the flow of the film, taking away from what could potentially be a melodramatic moment. Movies, such as Titanic and Birth of a Nation, and books, such as Marx's Manifesto, continuously put down the hero or heroes until the very last moment of the film, when they can potentially save the day or fail trying. Comedies lack of success at the Oscars is not because of their inability to incorporate pathos and action into their films. A comedy could even be a melodrama. It is the humor in the films that causes them to be viewed less seriously and less critically than other genres of film. 

In-class Response to 1 Question (Sorry couldn't get to the other!)

Response to Ajay's question:

1. In the opening anecdote of the Williams text, Harriet Beecher Stowe cries at the sight of a marble monument. After being informed she had been swayed by melodrama, she "reconsidered her tears" but still defended the artist's right to break usual conventions and create such a work. Does melodrama have a place in the world of art as Stowe thought, or is it only through ironic use that "transcends the melodrama itself" that it can even be considered successful?

Williams suggests that melodrama does have a place in the world of art. It has a place as a powerful, perpetually evolving genre, and shouldn’t be considered “successful” or “good” only when used ironically. The term “melodrama” has been disreputed as what “vulgar, naive audiences of yesteryear thrilled to” and not what “sophisticated” modern audiences should be appreciative of (Williams 11). Melodrama was also first affiliated with working class audiences and not the with the well-to-do, who were averse to melodrama’s "aesthetic aberrations" (Singer, 147). This poor reputation is why the strength of films that incorporate melodrama are so often questioned.  What needs to be understood is that melodrama is truly a genre encompassing nearly all popular moving pictures pictures today. It is an “an evolving mode of storytelling crucial to the establishment of moral good” that is no longer entirely black and white. As it has evolved, melodrama has become much more complex and "gray". I thus do not believe a film must "transcend melodrama" to be successful. It is the film's utilization of melodrama that can make it successful in the first place. 

2 Q's

Sheena: 1) Williams states that melodramas typically begin and seek to end in a "space of innocence". What role does home and the establishment of a "space of innocence" play in melodramas, and what are some examples of spaces of innocence in popular Disney films?
Williams describes this cyclical narrative arrangement as unique to melodrama, and defined with an idyllic image, iconically a home.  The Birth of a Nation begins and ends in the foyer of the Camerons' home, even showing moments of chaos in this exact space to further illuminate the melodramatic destruction of innocence.  Homes symbolize virtue because they represent family values.  Furthermore, it perhaps even provides a visual of balance through symmetry-- especially

Izzy: 3. What effect does the use of black face in Mickey's Mellerdrammer have on contemporary audiences as opposed to on the audiences of its time?

Two more questions

2. Themes and tones of melodrama have transcended from Disney's Mellerdrammer to recent Disney releases such as Frozen and Tangled.  Why might this be?  (My initial guess is that it's because they are designed for young, undereducated audiences-- the "non-elite."  But adults enjoy these films as well.  Is a favoring attitude toward melodrama instilled in us when we are young, is melodrama somehow superior to all other forms, more vastly comprehensible, etc?)  Or do you disagree with me?  I.e., Have melodramatic rules not been applied to the newest Disney movies?  (They have certainly been modified.  Damsels are in less distress than they used to be.)
Sorry for the elaboration.  Big Disney fan.

For a working definition of melodrama, I reference Singer’s “Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism” as follows: the basic elements of melodrama are “moral dichotomy, violence, spectacle, situation, pathos.” As a fellow Disney fan, I agree that melodrama plays a huge role in most Disney films. I have not seen Frozen (which breaks my heart on a daily basis), but I have seen Tangled, wherein the hero is in fact a misunderstood and oft-suffering young person who never really wanted to be a hero. The difference between this and classical melodrama would be, of course, that the hero is female and the “damsel in distress” is often the male character. This appeals to the largely female audience in that the heroine is a strong female who accepts help, but could probably succeed on her own through sheer grit and moxy. In regards to the first part of the question, I do think that the melodramatic tendencies of Disney movies definitely caters to the young, because the target audience of 5-7 year olds is unlikely to pick up on subtlety and nuance. It is incredibly important for the young viewers to be able to distinguish between good and evil, but now more than ever, Disney is blurring the lines. For example , Lotso, the bear from Toy Story 3, is first good, then evil, then good again when our heroes save him, and then evil once more when he turns his back on Woody and the crew. In short, there is no definitive answer to this question, mostly because of the sheer volume of Disney movies. On a case-by-case basis, some can certainly be considered melodramatic in the classic sense (Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid) wherein the hero suffers and is misunderstood and the villain is the one spearheading the mob (often literally-Beauty and the Beast) against the hero.

1.  Ben Singer defines melodrama as a genre as "a genre with a specific relation to the hallmarks of modern life: urbanization, cultural discontinuity, increased mobility, and sensory complexity."  Based on the examples of melodrama we've discussed in class and outside knowledge, does a piece have to have all four "hallmarks" in order to be melodramatic or just a few?

The core examples discussed in this class that I will use to answer this question are Harry Potter and Birth of a Nation. First, I would like to point out that Singer earlier gave a difference list of melodramatic characteristics, “moral dichotomy, violence, spectacle, situation, pathos.” In short, I would say no, a piece does not have to have all four hallmarks in order to be melodramatic. The smartass reason I offer on the surface is that Singer contradicts his own list at least once within his own article, so there are no four hallmarks characteristic of all melodrama. Delving deeper into the question, I call upon Harry Potter as an example. While there is obvious cultural discontinuity between the muggle and wizarding worlds as well as sensory complexity in the descriptions of everyday goings on in Harry’s life, there is no notable example of urbanization or increased mobility. However, we agreed in class that Harry Potter is a superb example of melodrama. In Birth of a Nation, a classical example of melodrama, there is cultural discontinuity, increased mobility, and sensory complexity.

2 Response Questions [Currently Incomplete]

          Williams mentions, and gives examples, of the usage of melodrama in the media. Is it possible for a news organization to be successful without the use of melodramatic elements?
-Sam Nichamin
Cite Williams , other works

Yes it is possible for a news organizations to be successful without employing melodrama. While it may not necessarily cater to the broader public, a specific audience of interested participants could appreciate news that provides non biased complex analysis of issues. This is demonstrated by the relative success of NPR and Al-Jazeera America.

2) Williams uses the 1996 Broadcast of the Olympics of a modern example of melodrama in broadcast news. Is including stories about the athletes personal struggles melodramatic or is Williams just being cynical?
-Gideon Weiss

I believe that the modern athletic spectacle of the Olympics is not a cynical representation or example of modern melodrama because it is an accurate model of how to insinuate the emotions that melodrama does. The sense of almost religious fervor that is demonstrated as an audience views competition mirrors melodrama not just because of the white hats vs. black hats motif of wanting one's own team to win but also because a nation watching the Olympics derives moral values from the games. This is seen by the US vs. Soviet "Mircale on Ice" and the pressure on athletes no to cheat.
1.  In Playing the Race Card, it is highlighted that many famous melodramas "all share the common function of revealing moral good in a world where virtue has become hard to read."  Would revenge on a villain be considered "moral good"?

A major, pervasive theme of melodrama is moral legibility, as explained by Williams -- it seeks to dispel ambiguity, complexity, and irony. Revenge on a villain is actually a major theme in many works of all time periods. Trauma, pain, and suffering are classic attributes of the literary hero, many times caused by such a villain. A hero's revenge would usually be considered moral good, gaining retribution against he who wronged him. That's not to say that there isn't a gray area. Another trope of many literary works is the fall of a hero. Revenge can twist a hero, even causing him to become a mirror image of what he despises the most. It is here where melodrama stops being just black and white, simply good vs. evil. 

2.     Williams mentions, and gives examples, of the usage of melodrama in the media. Is it possible for a news organization to be successful without the use of melodramatic elements?