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The Scientific Protagonist: A study of character in fiction and drama

Hutton, Philip (2022) The Scientific Protagonist: A study of character in fiction and drama. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The intention of this research project is to present the Scientific Protagonist as a defined character type and valid means of literary analysis, and to explore the potential benefit this concept offers to academic enquiry within theatre and drama regarding the representation of scientific stories in fiction.

I present the concept of the ‘Scientific Protagonist’ as a main character within a fictional narrative that promotes scientific stories, and solves their problems through the non-martial use of scientific knowledge, innovation or invention. Within dramatic texts, this character-type allows the audience or reader an opportunity to access scientific discourse and learning through a relatable character-led journey, promoting interaction between the imagination and scientific stories.

The aim of this research project is to present this concept of the Scientific Protagonist as a valid form of analysis for the critical reading and creation of modern drama and fiction and to demonstrate the interpretive value this concept has to offer in the context of academic interests in the institutions of both theatre and science.

This project draws on primary examples of literary art ranging in origin from Renaissance plays to modern novels and film which highlight the gradual emergence of a ‘Scientific Protagonist’ character-type within our cultural stories in recent centuries. Textual examples of the Scientific Protagonist will demonstrate the critical analysis of this character-type with a methodology of creative practice-led research applied simultaneously with post-modern reading methods appropriated from contemporary performance-theory. This research aims to achieve this presentation through a combined approach of Practice-led research along with the reading and analysis practices of New Historicism and Cultural Materialism. This methodology will be applied to samples of literary art in order to support the argument that the use of a Scientific Protagonist as a concept allows audiences to interact with scientific discourse and topics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Social Sciences and Arts
Supervisor(s): Wright, Peter, Moody, David and Stickland, Leonie
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