This article places existing discourses on Egyptian cinema, revolution, and global feminism in conversation with theories of film melodrama. The text examines the tradition of Egyptian melodrama as a site for analogizing women's liberation with national modernization in the wake of the 1952 Revolution—an analogy facilitated by the careful manipulation of melodramatic vernaculars of emotionality, and the endurance of affective cultural memory. In this context melodrama functions as a specific critical tool for understanding how popular film culture then and now organizes people politically and affectively, on- and offscreen. The article further investigates the “method of contradictions” that seems necessary to think critically about comparative melodrama at three levels of discourse: melodrama in general; the Egyptian melodramatic tradition specifically; and within melodramatic scholarship that tends to resemble its object of study.

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