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The Birth of a Nation’s “Melodrama of Pathos and Action”: A Tale of “National Rebirth”?

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In the Shadow of The Birth of a Nation
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Abstract

In his 1915 monumental melodrama The Birth of a Nation, Griffith was especially intent on re-orchestrating melodrama’s most efficient nineteenth-century tropes to foreground a new interpretation of national identity and unity. Thanks to what Peter Brooks calls the melodramatic imagination, he revitalized a genre—or possibly a mode—to reshape the history of the new nation while still ensuring a certain visibility of race. According to Linda Williams, melodrama operates as the nation’s vernacular discourse, “a major force of moral reasoning in American mass culture.”

Linda Williams, Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O. J. Simpson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 99.

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Correspondence to Anne-Marie Paquet-Deyris .

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Paquet-Deyris, AM. (2023). The Birth of a Nation’s “Melodrama of Pathos and Action”: A Tale of “National Rebirth”?. In: Stokes, M., McEwan, P. (eds) In the Shadow of The Birth of a Nation. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-04737-4_4

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