Victorian Melodrama in the Twenty-First Century: Jane Eyre, Twilight, and the Mode of Excess in Popular Girl Culture (Palgrave, 2016)

This book examines melodramatic impulses in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, as well as the series’ film adaptations and fan-authored texts. Attention to conventions such as crying, victimization, and happy endings in the context of the TwilightJane Eyre relationship reveals melodrama as an empowering mode of communication for girls. Although melodrama has saturated popular culture since the nineteenth century, its expression in texts for, about, and by girls has been remarkably under theorized. By defining melodrama, however, through its Victorian lineages, Katie Kapurch recognizes melodrama’s aesthetic form and rhetorical function in contemporary girl culture while also demonstrating its legacy since the nineteenth century. Informed by feminist theories of literature and film, Kapurch shows how melodrama is worthy of serious consideration since the mode critiques limiting social constructions of postfeminist girlhood and, at the same time, enhances intimacy between girls―both characters and readers.

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Reviews

“Conveying a brilliant reading of the female erotic, Katie Kapurch’s method is to analyze Twilight and its precedent Jane Eyre in dialog with fans and mise-en-scène. From her compelling interpretation of music as cuing sexual anxiety to crying as agency, Kapurch resists scholars’ biases against popular culture and gives girls their due. By authenticating desire, girls use the melodramatic mode to critique sexist patriarchy.” (Holly Blackford, Professor of English, Rutgers University, USA, and author of The Myth of Persephone in Girls’ Fantasy Literature)

“Drawing critical attention to the similar affective dimensions of Victorian literature and contemporary girls’ media culture, Kapurch boldly brings the two together for the first sustained study. The result is sure to inspire readers to rethink the intense emotions associated with the melodramatic mode and to reevaluate the young female fans who revel in them. A remarkable and long overdue project, this book paves important new pathways in girls’ studies, media studies, and literary scholarship.” (Mary Celeste Kearney, Director of Gender Studies and Associate Professor of Film, Television, and Theatre, University of Notre Dame, USA)

 

Katie Kapurch writes about sexy aspects of popular culture and literature. As a scholar of the Beatles and other major phenomena, she offers fresh insights when it comes to the topics of gender, sexuality, and race.

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