concentrating on high political melodrama even at the expense of his
wider ‘national’ sympathies. There is nothing exceptional,
however, in his attributing motives of honour and shame to the
protagonists of 978.
By the time we enter the eleventh century, we can see a
shift in the treatment of the incident. This is when we get our first
extended narratives from the Empire and their interest in 978 is
experience time differently than men – that time is essentially
gendered. Kristeva argues that masculine time is historical and linear
while women’s time is linked to ‘anterior temporal modalities’, usually
tied to gestation or characterised as having a cyclical nature. 3
Feminist film theorists such as Tania Modleski and Mary-Ann Doane have
applied Kristeva’s notion of gendered time to melodramas of the 1940s
: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), p.
See Sue Harper, ‘Historical pleasures:
Gainsborough and the costume melodrama,’ in Christine Gledhill
(ed.), Home Is Where the Heart Is: Studies in Melodrama
and the Woman’s Film (London: BFI, 1978), pp.
This mode of representation is perhaps indicative of a
shift in attitudes towards particular versions of the past. In the
‘gaslight melodramas’ of the 1940s, and in David Lean’s adaptations of
Dickens’s Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist
(1948), it is the Victorian period that is horrendous and threatening,
and against which true modernity can be defined. But in many of the