Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780226543659 Published July 2018
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The Melodramatic Moment

Music and Theatrical Culture, 1790–1820

Edited by Katherine G Hambridge and Jonathan Hicks

The Melodramatic Moment

Edited by Katherine G Hambridge and Jonathan Hicks

With a Foreword by James Chandler
288 pages | 16 halftones, 8 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780226543659 Published July 2018
E-book $10.00 to $55.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226563091 Published July 2018
We seem to see melodrama everywhere we look—from the soliloquies of devastation in a Dickens novel to the abject monstrosity of Frankenstein’s creation, and from Louise Brooks’s exaggerated acting in Pandora’s Box to the vicissitudes endlessly reshaping the life of a brooding Don Draper.

This anthology proposes to address the sometimes bewilderingly broad understandings of melodrama by insisting on the historical specificity of its genesis on the stage in late-eighteenth-century Europe.  Melodrama emerged during this time in the metropolitan centers of London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin through stage adaptations of classical subjects and gothic novels, and they became famous for their use of passionate expression and spectacular scenery. Yet, as contributors to this volume emphasize, early melodramas also placed sound at center stage, through their distinctive—and often disconcerting—alternations between speech and music. This book draws out the melo of melodrama, showing the crucial dimensions of sound and music for a genre that permeates our dramatic, literary, and cinematic sensibilities today.

A richly interdisciplinary anthology, The Melodramatic Moment will open up new dialogues between musicology and literary and theater studies.
Review Quotes
Benjamin Walton, University of Cambridge
“A volume that offers such fresh perspectives on melodrama’s tangled forms, genealogies, and influences would be enough in itself. But this collection goes much further: reconnecting the literary study of melodrama with the musical, while also indicating how the ‘melodramatic moment’ is inescapably intertwined with wider developments in spoken and sung theater in the decades around 1800. The result is nothing less than a model for a new kind of interdisciplinary cultural history, of a kind to appeal to anyone interested in the music and drama of the time.”
Gilli Bush-Bailey, University of London
“This collection of essays makes a much needed contribution to our understanding of melodrama and should be on everyone’s go-to list for research, practice, and teaching. The editors offer us a tight distillation of the existing literature on melodrama in both theatre and music fields, bringing together the philosophical and radical roots of the form in ways that both disciplines will find energizing and informative.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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