Northwestern University

Wed 12:00 PM

Matthew H. Brown: Breadlosers: Nollywood, State Television, and the Stakes of Masculine Melodrama


recurring see all events in this series

When: Wednesday, February 28, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM  

Where: 620 Library Place, Room 106, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Program of African Studies   847.491.7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Join the Program of African Studies for our weekly lunch and lecture.

Cosponsored by the Nollywood working group

Breadlosers: Nollywood, State Television, and the Stakes of Masculine Melodrama

Matthew H. Brown, African Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Presentation Description:
The earliest Nollywood films drew from a pool of expertise within Nigeria’s massive state television network, and some films directly responded to state television narratives. In the 1990s, films focused on the subject of marriage were particularly influenced by the latest Nigerian soap operas, which explored new scripts for gender performance, often influenced by the rise of international NGOs devoted to women’s issues. Some Nollywood films extended the feminine melodramatic mode cultivated on state television, but others retaliated, developing a masculine melodramatic mode that would become typical of the industry. In this presentation, I propose that, by attending to narrative form and audiovisual aesthetics, we can better understand films that, on the surface, appear to be about the evils of greed. Instead, they make more sense as reactions to the economic foundations of gender relations. The subject of breadwinning, in particular, and the sometimes-nefarious means by which men pursue it, exposes Nollywood’s greater concern with the sharp contrast between people’s social fantasies and the conditions within which they actually live.

Matthew H. Brown is Assistant Professor of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a media historian, with a focus on Nigeria, including colonial cinema, state television, and video film—otherwise known as “Nollywood.” His current book project, tentatively titled Indirect Subjects: Nollywood’s Local Address, teases apart the relationship between Nigeria’s state television network, which is the oldest and largest in Africa, and the Nollywood video boom that grew out of state television in the 1990s. Dr. Brown has also published articles and book chapters on genre theory, literature, and popular music in Africa.

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