Gothic Melodrama and the Aesthetic of Silence in Thomas Holcroft‘s A Tale of Mystery

Focusing on melodrama and on Thomas Holcroft‘s exemplary A Tale of Mystery (1802) in particular, this essay proposes a reinterpretation of Gothic drama and theatre as constitutively characterized by interruptions of comprehension. The tribulations of its persecuted protagonist Francisco are read in the context of the court trial of a real-life Francisco, who lived in London in 1802 and was one of the ‘stars’ in contemporary newspaper reports from the Old Bailey. Combining different generic and tonal modes, Romantic-period Gothic melodrama capitalized on explicitness and hyperbole, as well as on materializations of ethics and sentiment through their overt exhibition on stage or ‘ostension’. At the same time, it emphasized absence, silence, dematerialization and dissolution. With its continuously deferred revelations,and ostensions of the unsaid, A Tale of Mystery is a significant investment in an aesthetic of the unsaid that is central to a definition of Gothic on stage.

Gothic Studies
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Gothic, in a sense, has always been 'queer'. This book illustrates the rich critical complexity which is involved in reading texts through queer theories. It provides a queer reading of such early Gothic romances as William Beckford's Vathek, Matthew Gregory Lewis's The Monk, and Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer. Building upon critical trend of desire between men, the book examines Frankenstein's engagement with sexual rhetoric in the early nineteenth century. It explores some ways in which the signifying practices of queerness are written into the language and, therefore, the signifying practices of Gothic fiction. Teleny's apparently medicalised representation of homosexual erotic love contains some strikingly Gothic elements. The book examines how the courtroom drama of the E. M. Forster's A Passage to India focuses on the monstrous possibility of miscegenation, an Indian accused of raping an Englishwoman. Antonia White's Frost in May can be contextualised to the concept of the 'lesbian Gothic', which helpfully illuminates the representation of adolescent female subjectivity and sexuality. Same-sex desire is represented indirectly through sensuous descriptions of the female body and intertextual allusions to other erotic texts. The book considers how the vampire has become an ambivalent emblem of gay sexuality in late twentieth-century Gothic fiction by examining Interview with the Vampire and Lost Souls. The understanding of the Gothic and queer theory in a pop video is achieved by considering how Michael Jackson's use of the Gothic in Thriller and Ghosts queers the temporality of childhood.

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Point of view and communication

alike as residing at the opposite pole of what we might term a spectrum of distance from his fellow classical Hollywood filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, directed by John Ford, who has been championed by Jean-Marie Straub and Gilberto Perez as ‘the most Brechtian of all filmmakers’.7 It is in fact Anatomy of a Murder that I place in most sustained dialogue with Brecht, offering the film’s courtroom drama as a metacritical reflection upon criticism, and upon the role that the point of view adopted during the act of sustained aesthetic

in Classical Hollywood cinema
Open Access (free)
Civil rites of passage

progress’. 1 Before this, movies with plots incorporating civil rights struggles could turn up in any popular genre from westerns to courtroom dramas, and even comedies. Slowly a small but distinct body of films is developing in which Movement successes are celebrated and strategies and losses interrogated – Freedom Song (2000), Boycott (2001) and The Rosa Parks Story (2002

in Memory and popular film
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Queering the Gothic

, imperial collapse, and the queering of Adela Quested in E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India ’ Ardel Thomas (Chapter 6) explores how Forster’s 1924 novel develops images of queer identities through debates about identity and race which are familiar from the Gothic. Thomas examines how the courtroom drama of the novel focuses on the monstrous possibility of miscegenation (an Indian accused of raping an

in Queering the Gothic

and self-referential approaches to narrative have emerged. Ally McBeal, for example, has been dubbed a “dramedy” in the light of its mix of comedy and tragedy or, more precisely, its debt to sitcom, romance, courtroom drama and MTV.11 The fictional world of the series in which viewers are invited to believe is the law firm, Fish & Cage, where Ally is employed. Like the other lawyers, Ally takes on cases and functions as an advocate in the courtroom. Though the cases are frequently unusual, not to say bizarre, the given of the series is that of a legal and courtroom

in State of play
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Filming in the 1950s and 60s

flourish, but he also made a couple of cheerful minor musicals (Live It Up, 1963 and Be My Guest, 1965) and two comedies (The Ugly Duckling, 1959 and Make Mine a Million, 1959). The co-features also include a drama of postwar malaise, a courtroom drama, a kidnap thriller and a Gothic horror piece. If melodrama is the continuing strain through most of Comfort’s work, it needs to be said that he was

in Lance Comfort
Land and Freedom/Tierra y Libertad

then they’ve got to talk about something other than film. So consequently they kind of hide their eyes from what’s in front of them and find some kind of peripheral subject to discuss. If you spend all your time in semiological disputes, then you can’t see anything else. 10 Allen, who worked regularly on popular television programmes such as Coronation Street and the courtroom drama Crown Court (ITV, 1972–84), also argues for the prioritisation of content over form when he states that ‘it is the content that any serious writer should concern himself with

in The war that won't die

, the hospital series, the courtroom drama series, the traditionally domestic setting of the soap opera, and so forth). Furthermore, important to television are a plethora of non-narrative genres, like the documentary, talk show, quiz and game show, and news and current affairs programme. As Rick Altman has pointed out, ‘film genre’s consistent connections to the entire production

in Genre and performance
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Education, communication and film studies

John Durham Peters notes: ‘Literature was revolutionary in the eighteenth century in the sense that it brought publics together and trained people in the art of critical analysis and discussion. Criticism had a decisively public function in that it combined literary, social and political judgements.’21 As part of my discussion of Anatomy of a Murder, I offered that film as a metaphor for the process of criticism, that is, the process of judgment. A courtroom drama can demonstrate with a particular vividness that there are indeed connections and continuities between

in Classical Hollywood cinema