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Improving Passions : Sentimental Aesthetics and American Film (Hardcover) (Charles Burnetts)
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When did the sentimental start to mean 'awful'? Why are so many popular mainstream films dismissed for their sentimentality, and are there any meaningful differences between the sentimental and the melodramatic? These are some of the questions addressed in Charles Burnetts' illuminating genealogy of the concept as both a literary genre and an aesthetic philosophy, a tradition that prefigures the advent of film yet serves as a vital framework for understanding its emotional and ethical appeal. Examining eighteenth century 'moral sense' philosophy as a neglected but still important intellectual area for film theory, and drawing on case studies of film sentimentality during the early, classical and post-classical eras of US cinema, Improving Passions is an innovative exploration of the sentimental tradition as both theatrical genre and cultural logic.