This course applies one genre, melodrama, to the modern film history of two nations, China and the United States. Through analysis of theories on melodrama, realism and film as well as close viewing of clips from over 10 films, students will develop an understanding of both how fluid this genre is across national cinemas and how national cinema can alter the nature of the genre itself. The course will focus on Western films and then transition into Chinese films, engaging in a challenging but fascinating comparative analysis. Key questions will include: What are the powerful aspects of melodrama? What are some components of melodrama that may be dangerous? What is the relationship between realism and melodrama? How does Chinese melodrama differ from American melodrama? What components are the most similar?