2017 Book: Film Mavericks in Action

The book, now published, has a broad scope – from 1920s New York Modernism, Classic Hollywood, New Hollywood to 2015/2016 updates on #OscarsSoWhite.


ABSTRACT: “Film Mavericks in Action critically considers the work of four pivotal film director rhetors – Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Michael Cimino and Francis Ford Coppola. Their varied career arcs are contextualized by a panoramic account that, from the 1920s to the present, considers Hollywood primarily as a “languaged industry”, a symbolic Order, grounded in principles of identification, hierarchy, courtship and burdened with its own ambiguities of substance. The study thus draws upon the prodigious work of literary theorist, philosopher, social analyst and educator Kenneth Burke (1897-1993). While his dramatism informs the book’s admonitory critique of four case-study box-office and critical disasters, his own critique of the promissory rhetoric of higher education frames also its closing questions that bear down on contemporary Film School education. The book’s own ambition, therefore, is to uniquely yoke familiar histories of New Hollywood with aspects of critical theory that, since the 1950s, have embraced advances in the New Rhetoric as pioneered by Burke.”

As such, the project hopes to serve the interests of students and practitioners in Rhetorical Theory, Film Education, Creative Writing, Production Studies, and Film and Media Studies and who, when questioning the present Order, might share in Scorsese’s rumination: “I still wonder what it takes to be a professional or maybe even an artist in Hollywood”.”


Sample Acknowledgments

Special mention goes to Alan Bernstein (formerly of the London Film School) whose encouraging reception of my Heaven’s Gate (1980) dissertation back in 1990 was not forgotten. Final appreciation extends across the decades to Charles Swann, who for “…over 30 years…inspired students of American literature at Keele University with his sharp, rigorous, deeply humanistic teaching…Charles was erudite, combative, searingly truthful and endlessly kind”. (Eagleton, The Guardian, 30/10/2006).

The book is now available here



The discussion…


 The book is listed by Balliol College, Oxford and…Twitter updates that continue the shared research and discussions are here





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