The representation of nurses in 1950s melodrama: A cross-cultural approach

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Melodrama is identified as one of the most prolific cinematic genres in terms of the representation of nurses. Its contribution to the overall media depiction of the professional category has therefore been significant. This paper explores melodramatic portrayals of nurses with a specific focus on cinema of the 1950s, the golden age of Western melodrama, and concentrates on two representative case studies: Anna (ITA, 1951), and The Nun's Story (USA, 1959). These films enable a fruitful comparison, sharing several narrative elements, featuring religious nurses as protagonists, and yet eventually conferring on the nursing vocation different values. Such similar nurses' images are examined through a multidisciplinary approach, spanning feminist film theory, gender and cultural studies, cultural history and the social history of nursing. Among the goals of this study is to consider whether different national origins - in these films, Italy and America - have also been influential in the depiction of the respective nurse-character. Cite this article: Babini, E. (2012, OCTOBER). The representation of nurses in 1950s melodrama: A cross-cultural approach. Nursing Outlook, 60(5S), S27-S35.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S27-S35
Number of pages9
JournalNursing Outlook
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


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