This course aims to introduce students to the genre of melodrama, the most widely-accepted form of popular entertainment on the 19th century American stage. The students will study a number of early American melodramas ranging from Royall Tyler’s The Contrast (1787) to George A. Aiken’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), Anna Cora Mowatt’s Fashion (1845), Frank Murdoch's Davy Crockett (1873), and others. The students will: •become familiar with the role of 19th century American theatre as a powerful political and ideological tool through the study of both the aesthetics and ideological parameters inherent in these melodramatic plays which focus upon a number of contentious issues of the time, such as nationalism and political propaganda, slavery, the myth of the American West, women’s position in American society, the emergence of class and ethnic hierarchies. •become acquainted with the social, political, and cultural discourses of the 19th century from which melodrama sprang and to which it contributed. •develop reading, writing, and speaking skills by means of textual analysis, essay-writing, and in-class oral assignments. •develop their critical ability by drawing connecting lines with the role of melodrama (theatre, film, media) in contemporary society and its impact on the mentality and psychology of the people Course textbook and outline/bibliography are available. Assessment: Final exam.