Negotiating melodrama and the Malay woman: female representation and the melodramatic mode in Malaysian-Malay films from the early 1990s-2009

Mokhtar-Ritchie, Hanita Mohd. (2011) Negotiating melodrama and the Malay woman: female representation and the melodramatic mode in Malaysian-Malay films from the early 1990s-2009. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Melodrama does not only point to a type of aesthetic practice but also to a way of viewing the world. This thesis is inspired by the idea proposed by Christine Gledhill (1988) that at the core of cultural negotiation in melodrama is gender representation which is the cultural product resulting from the linking of textual and social subjects. Central to this negotiation is the figure of the woman which has long functioned as a powerful and ambivalent expression of the male psyche. In the context of Malaysian cinema, film critics and reviewers tend to use the term ‘melodrama’ in the pejorative sense, usually referring to female-centred films. What is significantly comparable between Western and non-Western perceptions, however, is that melodrama is examined in terms of gender, class, and more recently, race and ethnicity. This thesis examines the construction of female protagonists, within the backdrop of both urban and rural settings, through the use of melodrama as an aesthetic mode in selected Malaysian-Malay films from the early 1990s to 2009. The general approach is the employment of textual analysis based on concepts of film melodrama and informed by contextual information and social history. Thematically, Malaysian-Malay films of the period between the early 1990s and 2009 that focus on female protagonists largely depict the woman in the capacity of independent-minded personas negotiating patriarchal rules in the pursuit of vocational, romantic, and sexual emancipation. This typology of female protagonists comprises the urban, the romantic and the sexual woman. The problematisation of the female protagonist in this manner reveals the dimensions of social change and defines the new role of women in Malaysia’s market economy from the 1990s to the new millennium.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: An essay, with information extracted from my thesis, is pending publication.
Keywords: melodrama, female representation, feminist film theory, genre, Asian cinema, textual analysis, negotiation, Malaysian films
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Geraghty, Prof. Christine
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Hanita Mohd. Mokhtar-Ritchie
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-3340
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:06

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