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Enigmatic Pearls: Authorship and Representation: Competing Cultural Positions in Pilbara Pearl, Nullarbor Pearl and Shoalwater Pearl

Rossetti, Sarah Jane (2008) Enigmatic Pearls: Authorship and Representation: Competing Cultural Positions in Pilbara Pearl, Nullarbor Pearl and Shoalwater Pearl. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This work is an inquiry into the creative pathways I have undertaken, as a screenplay author, when formulating a body of work, which interrogates issues of importance to me, as a Caucasian, Australian, multicultural, female author, writing within a fictional feature film script construct. It is an interdisciplinary investigation, punctuated by self consciousness. Mindful of my own subject position, I believe my negotiations through this, as reflected in the body of my past and present work, have created an original thesis which argues for the aesthetic, reconciliatory power of screenplays. In wishing to create a positive lead role for an Indigenous actress, I had to ultimately put aside reservations about my origins as a non-Indigenous screenwriter. As a screenplay author, I will demonstrate why I find it hard not to agree with Michel Foucault’s supposition that: “it is not enough to repeat the empty affirmation that the author has disappeared” (Foucault 101).

The creative component of my thesis is a magic realist feature film script, entitled Shoalwater Pearl, written as a prequel to the two other enclosed film scripts largely written outside of this doctoral thesis, featuring the same lead character, Pearl. Pearl carries the weight of my self-consciousness, and through her, I reveal the creative pathways I simultaneously interrogate as I research theoretical issues of importance to me as a screenplay author.

Faris could not have more aptly put it, regarding the magic realist aim, which I have adapted to my representation of Pearl, as, “a disturbing element, a grain of sand in the oyster of [. . .] realism” (Faris 168).

The theoretical component of my thesis is interwoven with theories of Authorship and Representation including issues of Identity, Aboriginality, Multiculturalism and Gender to better document how my creative and theoretical pathways intertwine, followed by a short Conclusion, Bibliography and Filmography. The Chapter titles, ‘Authorship’ and ‘Representation’ are used advisedly, as it could be argued that they are controversial subjects. It will be revealed that none of these terms can be considered as stable or abiding. However, each chapter introduces its title as a methodological and normative term for a category or definition from which the chapter emerges.

As a result of my interdisciplinary approach, I have posited an original pathway for other screenplay authors, who, whilst remaining mindful of marketplace interests, may also enter into identity politics or study social movements in order to create screenplays representing contentious aspects of cultural change in contemporary Australia, whilst paying homage to their own unresolved issues or unique life narratives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
Supervisor(s): De Reuck, Jennifer and Broderick, Mick
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