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Film Mavericks in Action

New Hollywood, New Rhetoric, and Kenneth Burke

Alan Taylor

The book’s ambition 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 literary theorist, philosopher, social analyst and educator Kenneth Burke (1897–1993). The study tracks the career arcs of Hollywood film directors Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Michael Cimino and Francis Ford Coppola whose productions are regarded as Burkean perspectives by incongruity. This analysis is contextualized within an overview that, from the 1920s to the present, considers Hollywood as a "languaged industry" that is grounded in Burkean principles of Order, identification, hierarchy, courtship and ambiguities of substance. The project is designed to serve the interests of colleagues and students in Rhetorical Theory, Film Education, Creative Writing, American Studies, Production Studies, and Film and Media Studies.

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First appreciations go to Peter Lang GmbH Berlin representative Dr. Benjamin Kloss; to colleagues in South Africa, primarily Dr. Francois Human, and the recent students at the Film Programme, Tshwane University of Technology. Thanks also extend to first–row supporters Gregory du Tertre, Phil Avery (BBC), Martin Carrolchick, Steve Hardie (Hollywood), sister Roma Nelson, Paul Burgess of Daedalus Theatre U.K., and Ottilie Klein and Dr. Marina Kolesickenko of the Oxford University Society/Berlin.

While the preparatory work was undertaken in South Africa, core research and completion of the project took place in Berlin. So a hearty “danke” to the sterling work undertaken by that city’s librarians – at the Staatsbibliothek; the Deutsche Kinemathek; the Film University, Babelsberg, and the John F. Kennedy Institute of North American Studies.

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, and to Penny Croxson for her forensic analysis and supportive feedback in the book’s final stages. Friends and family who held the torch know who they are. Gratitude also extends to Anne Marie Taylor and William John Taylor for the support and love that continues undimmed.

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