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  • 2018passmorephd

    Final published version, 15.4 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 29/01/23

    Available under license: CC BY-NC-ND

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Screenplays: writing, discourse, and process

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Simon Passmore
Publication date2018
Number of pages257
Awarding Institution
Award date30/01/2018
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis argues that screenplays have, throughout their history, been overlooked, undervalued, and misrepresented in ways that obscure them as works of creative writing. Restoring writing and creativity to the definition and analysis of screenplays, against metaphors that reduce them to industrial or technical documents, the thesis also contends with discourses that nominate screenwriting a lesser kind of writing than literary writing, writing that is not meant to be read; a formulaic mode of writing without agency, voice, complexity, or distinctiveness; a fixed and limited writing that is unnecessary or antithetical to film art. Against these arguments, the thesis demonstrates that screenplays are writing that is read and meant to be read; that screenplays are capable of complexity similar to the best literary writing; that they call into being, persist in, and endure beyond the finished film; that screenplay writing is a generative process; and that many screenplays go far beyond the limitations of the prevalent industrial model. The thesis sets the frequently disconnected historical, critical, theoretical, pedagogical, and practical discourses that address screenplays in dialogue. My arguments are informed by situating the practice of writing and reading screenplays (my own and others’) at the centre of my research. I conclude that, despite the pessimism of some scholars, screenplays are neither obsolete nor redundant, since their continuing ability to generate and shape story and meaning remains unchanged by new media, technologies, and practices.

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