Welcome to PWR!
Joy! Rage! Horror! The Rhetoric of Melodrama
Melodrama plays a visible role in American popular culture—from made-for-television movies, to country music and rock ballads, soap operas, action flicks, and legal dramas. The emotional, narrative, and rhetorical excess that characterizes melodrama extends beyond entertainment. Rhetorical excess is everywhere—even in political persuasion, including comparisons of political leaders to Hitler or Stalin, and the use of personal narrative to make political arguments. In this course, we will analyze the role of melodrama in American popular culture and media, and the types of claims that the rhetoric of excess makes.
Students will develop the skills to read, write, and think critically in a multimedia context. We'll begin the course by analyzing the conventions of fictional melodrama in television, film, and music. After identifying characteristics of melodrama, we will move on to more subtle uses of melodrama to make socio-political arguments in, for example, journalism and political campaigns. Essays on cultural theory and popular culture will suggest methods for making our own analyses.
Course requirements include active participation and regular writing. There will be three major writing assignments: a rhetorical analysis, a contextual analysis, and a final research paper. Students will also be expected to participate in a class blog and to deliver a research presentation to the class.