Manfred and Melodrama

"Manfred and Melodrama" considers  Manfred’s—and Byron’s—relation to the dominant theatrical genre of his time, melodrama. We place melodrama’s facility in appropriating materials from other cultural forms alongside a less-acknowledged corollary: that the melodrama was also itself a major object of cultural consumption, enough so that a text like  Manfred stands in mutually defining relation to plays like BluebeardA Tale of Mystery, and Rugantino, both technically and thematically. Canvassing critical writing on consumption from Neil McKendrick and John Brewer to Colin Campbell and Timothy Morton, we argue for the melodrama as an exemplum for understanding Romantic cultural consumption and appropriation, fed as it is by popular forms like the gothic while yet providing a critique of consumption similar to those we associate with Romantic poetry.