Sunday, September 14, 2014

Three Questions from Playing the Race Card

1. The author briefly mentions that the French ‘have a long tradition of classical tragedy which led them to believe that the “norms” of literature and theater are antithetical to melodrama’ (Williams, 19), while Americans have different norms that led to ‘revealing moral good in a world where virtue has become hard to read’ (Williams, 19). What exactly are the ‘American norms’ that Williams is referring to? Moreover, did such differences in norms cause melodrama to manifest differently in modern French theater and film culture? Is it similar to or very different from that of American culture?

2. Williams notes that in the process of proving the virtue of victim hero, ‘the transmutation of bodily suffering into virtue is a topos of western culture that goes back to Christian iconography’ (Williams, 29). Earlier in the text, it was established that there was a ‘waning of Calvinist morality in America’ (Williams, 20). Are there other sources/traces of Christianity that can be observed in melodrama? If so, what are their roles?

3. Williams establishes a relationship between realism and melodrama, that ‘historically, melodramatic and realistic dramas developed during the same period in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They have been mutually influential.’ (Williams, 38). Realism indeed had a profound influence on melodrama as a ‘renewed truth and stylistic innovation’ (Williams, 39). On the other hand, how did melodrama influence realism and its development? Were such influences favorable for development of realistic drama? Or did they impede such progress of realistic drama?

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