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Revisiting Style in Literary and Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Articulations

Edited By Jasmin Herrmann, Moritz Ingwersen, Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Olga Ludmila Tarapata

The collected volume brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities to interrogate the productivity of style as an element of cultural expression and a parameter of cultural analysis. Despite its ubiquity in examinations of artistic singularity or postulations of epochal patterns, style remains a notoriously elusive concept. Suspicious of monolithic definitions, the contributions assembled in this volume address style from a multiplicity of methodological and conceptual angles, drawing from fields that include literary studies, film and media studies, post-structuralist philosophy, philosophy of science, and American cultural studies.

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16 The Glass House of Love: A Key Element of Film Style in French Melodrama

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Translated by Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Moritz Ingwersen

Abstract: In film melodrama, the glass house not only functions as a ‘cinematographic object’ in which cinema mirrors itself; moreover and above all, it appears as a precarious refuge for romantic lovers which allows them to partake in the surrounding landscape without leaving their shelter, but at the same time exposes them to the indiscrete gaze, if not even the intrusion, of an uninvited third. While Hollywood melodrama tends to stress the first function and to transform the transparent encasement into a romantic home, French melodrama has generally foregrounded the second function, presenting the glass house as a display case in clear sight and control of the exterior world. This particular tradition of film style can already be observed in Poetic Realism, where greenhouses turn out to be dangerously transparent sites for the lovers meeting there; and it still marks the auteur cinema of the last decades, where modernist glass buildings or cars give way to risky outbursts of passion.

Keywords: Melodrama, Film style, Glass architecture, Poetic Realism, auteur cinema, Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné, André Téchiné, Claire Denis

The Glass House in the Melodrama: Outlook and Insight

Glass houses have long been among cinema’s recurring topoi. Originally rooted in horticulture, and since the nineteenth century also used as exhibition spaces, these types of edifices not only found their way into the architecture of factories, offices and residential buildings, but also soon...

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