Kathleen McHugh reconsiders melodrama and the feminist commentary applied to it in an intersectional analysis of domestic labor and its representations in American Domesticity: From How-To Manual to Hollywood Melodrama (Oxford, 1999). She indicates how domestic femininity derives from anxieties concerning race, class, and the public sphere. She is co-editor of South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, Genre and National Cinema (2005) and a special issue of SIGNS on Film Feminisms. Her articles on domesticity, feminism, melodrama, the avant-garde, and autobiography have appeared in Cultural Studies, Jump Cut, Screen, South Atlantic Quarterly, and Velvet Light Trap. Her book, Jane Campion, was published in 2007. Since 2005, she has directed the UCLA Center for the Study of Women.
In my first book, American Domesticity: From How-To Manual to Hollywood Melodrama (1999), I looked at how constructions of an affective, melodramatic domesticity in US cinema perpetuates the fantasy of gendered public and private spheres that functions to occlude or subsume the significance of other social distinctions such as race and class. While the South Korean Melodrama project looks at the development and articulation of questions of labor, affect, and domesticity from a comparative national perspective, my interest in Jane Campion stems from her appropriation and re-motivation of melodramatic tropes to articulate a very different kind of "woman's cinema" that refuses the conventional constructions of femininity in industry cinema. My interest in cinematic experimental autobiography concerns self-narration that repudiates private, affective constructions of the self, opting instead for self-representation articulated through public rubrics and structures that re-construe the meaning of "individuality". My latest research project grapples with historicizing transnational feminism and its effects on global cinema.
A consideration of gender and ethnicity in US media in the context of transnational cinema.