Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours


School of Communications and Contemporary Art


Faculty of Communications and Creative Industries

First Supervisor

Lelia Green

Second Supervisor

Mardie O'Sullivan


Throughout the history of film studies, the uniqueness of film as an art form has been acknowledged. It is a multi-sensory experience that continually develops and, in the process, reflects social and cultural progression as well. Notions of authorship have been applied to aspects of film throughout its history and although the auteur theory has maintained a significant and lasting influence within the discipline, the screenwriter as author (or auteur) has consistently been excised from film, and indeed literary, study. Why this is the case when the screenplay is such a necessary component of the majority of mainstream films, and the screenwriter, as an originator or creator of the thematic concerns of the film plays a major role within the collaborative process of film production, is an issue this paper will investigate. Through a critique of the auteur theory and an analysis of the film Adaptation, written by Charlie Kaufman, one of the foremost contemporary screenwriters today, I will argue that the screenwriter fulfills an important function of authorial agency within the structure of the film text. Although notions of agency are once again being addressed within contemporary poststructural and postmodern theories of authorship, the problem of the interplay between agency and structure is still an issue. The screenwriter provides an interesting study for understanding this issue, as s/he uniquely operates in a liminal space between the self as author, and structure as the defining characteristic of the visual mass medium of film. Using Dialectical Critical Realism and Margaret S. Archer's theory of the internal conversation and agency, I will attempt to not only provide a new approach to how agency is enacted within the culturally structured film, but also foreground the recognition of the screenwriter as author.

Included in

Screenwriting Commons