I am grateful to Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman for welcoming this book
into Theory Q, and to Sex, or the Unbearable for inspiration. I thank Lee
and Joseph Litvak as well for a response to my monograph on Strangers
on a Train that prompted my return to Hitchcock and Highsmith in this
book. I am indebted to those who commented on the chapter on Bee-
thoven when I delivered it at Concordia University or read the version of
it that appears as “Fidelio: Melodramas of Agency and Identity” in Criti-
cism 55, no. 4 (fall 2013): Meredith Evans, Esther Frank, Bonnie Honig,
Stephen Orgel, James Kuzner, Joe Quinn, and Sharon Cameron among
them, and to Adam Frank, who heard it and read much of the manu-
script as it was being written. My thanks to Aaron Goldsman for a stimu-
lating response to the chapter on Cather that I circulated for a work-
shop at Emory, and to Paul Kelleher and Pat Cahill for their engagement.
Sharon Cameron also read the coda with enthusiasm, and it pleases me
to think that this book echoes some of the remarkable work she has done
on impersonality. Brent Dawson was my able research assistant on this
project, and I thank him especially for traveling to the Warner Bros. Ar-
chive on my behalf; I also thank Jonathon Auxier, the archivist there,
for his unfailing assistance. I am indebted to Hal Rogers for helping me
think through this project on many occasions. Michael Moon has read
it over and again with his loving and caring eye, on which I depend. This
book would never have been written had not Marcie Frank invited me to
take part in a workshop and conference on melodrama. Her illuminat-
ing thoughts about that endeavor and Michael’s response to it are found
in the issue of Criticism on melodrama she edited that includes my Fide-
lio essay (fall 2013). I dedicate this book to her, not just because she is
behind it, has read the entire manuscript in draft, and encouraged me
through the writing, but also for the inspiring conversation and friend-
ship we have had for years and I hope will have for many more.
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