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Though the history of the screenplay is as long and rich as the history of film itself, critics and scholars have neglected it as a topic of serious research. Script Culture and the American Screenplay treats the screenplay as a literary work in its own right, presenting analyses of screenplays from a variety of frameworks, including feminism, Marxism, structuralism, philosophy, and psychology. In distancing the text of screenplays from the on-screen performance typically associated with them, Kevin Alexander Boon expands the scope of film studies into exciting new territory with this volume.
Script Culture and the American Screenplay is divided into two parts. Part 1 provides a general background for screenplay studies, tracing the evolution of the screenplay from the early shot lists and continuities of George Méliès and Thomas Harper Ince to the more detailed narratives of contemporary works. Part 2 offers specific, primarily thematic, critical examinations of screenplays, along with discussions of the original screenplay and the screenplay adaptation. In all, Boon explains that screenplay criticism distinguishes itself from traditional film studies in three major ways. The primary focus of screenplay criticism is on the screenplay rather than the film, the focus of screenplay studies is on the screenwriter rather than the director, and screenplay criticism, like literary criticism, is written to illuminate a reader’s understanding of the text.
Boon demonstrates that whether we are concerned with aesthetics and identifying rules for distinguishing the literary from the non-literary, or whether we align ourselves with more contemporary theories, which recognize texts as distinguishable in their inter-relationships and marked difference, screenplays constitute a rich cache of works worthy of critical examination. Film scholars as well as students of film, creative writing, and literary studies will appreciate this singular volume.