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AbstractThis thesis addresses a methodological impasse within film studies which is of ongoing concern because of the way that it demonstrates the discipline’s conflicting approaches to ideology. This impasse arises because proponents of poststructuralism and cognitivism utilise methodologies which not only make internally consistent interpretations of films, but are also able to discount the theoretical criticisms of the rival paradigm. Attempts to debate and transcend these divisions have been unsuccessful. This thesis contributes to this gap in knowledge by arguing that both academic theories (such as poststructuralism and cognitivism) and filmmaking practice are influenced by the same historically contingent socio-cultural determinants. Academic claims about film’s effects can then be conceptualised as aggregates of thought which are analogous to the dramatic manipulations that filmmakers unconsciously work into their films, with both forms of cultural activity (academic theorising and filmmaking practice) influenced by the same diachronic socio-cultural contexts. The term that I use for these specific forms of filmmaking practice is writing formations. A filmic writing formation is a form of filmmaking practice influenced by the same cultural ideas which also inform academic hermeneutics. The thesis does not undertake a conventional extended literature review as a means to identify the gap in the literature. This is because contested theoretical discourses are part of the thesis’ subject matter. I analyse academic literature in the same way that I analyse film, conceptualising both 3 activities as being determined by the same specific historical and socio-cultural contexts. The thesis analyses Shakespearean films because they offer multiple diachronic texts which are foregrounded as interpretations, and in which different approaches to filmmaking can be clearly compared and contrasted across time. They clarify the complex and often unconscious relationships between academic theorising and filmic writing formations by facilitating an investigation of how the historic development of academic discourse relates to the historic development of filmmaking practice. The corpus of texts for analysis has been confined to Anglo-American realist film adaptations, and European and American debates about, and criticism of, realist film from the advent of poststructuralism in the late 1960s to the present day. The thesis is structured as an investigation into the current theoretical impasse and the unsatisfactory attempts to transcend it, the articulation of a new methodology relating to filmic writing formations, the elaboration of how different filmic writing formations operate within realist film adaptation, and a close case study of the unfolding historical processes whereby academic theory and filmmaking practice relate to the same socio-cultural determinants using four adaptations of Hamlet from different time periods. It concludes by explaining how filmmakers exploit and manipulate forms of filmic grammar which correspond to academic theories about those forms of filmic grammar, with both activities influenced by the same underlying diachronic culture. The thesis argues, then, that academic poststructuralism and cognitivism can be 4 conceptualised as explanations for different but contiguous aspects of filmmaking practice, rather than as mutually exclusive claims about film’s effects.
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.