From The Journal Of Screenwriting 2 : The screenplay as boundary object by Rosamund Davies

Highlighting the articles in the latest edition of the Journal of Screenwriting, of which I am the Book Reviews Editor. Hopefully these abstracts will entice you to did a little deeper into the history and future of screenwriting. — Rosanne


The screenplay as boundary object
Rosamund Davies

Described by Pasolini as a ‘structure that wants to be another structure’, the question of what kind of thing-in-itself the screenplay might be has produced a range of answers. Screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière has used the metaphor of the chrysalis – of vital importance in the process of the caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly – but useless and empty once the butterfly, or film, has emerged. Film scholar Claudia Sternberg has considered the screenplay’s status as a ‘second rank’ text, in relation to the ‘first rank’ film performance. The idea of the screenplay as blueprint is common. Meanwhile, scholars (e.g. Maras, Millard, Price) have raised issues with such definitions, pointing out their limitations. In this article, I propose the notion of the ‘boundary object’ as a useful way of thinking about the role and nature of the screenplay within the development and production of a screen narrative. My starting point is sociologist Susan Leigh Star’s concept of the boundary object, defined as an object that allows different individuals or groups with heterogeneous skills, knowledge and interests to cooperate towards a common goal by creating a ‘shared space’, situated at the boundaries between their habitual spheres of practice. I propose that, avoiding the problems inherent in an analogy such as the blueprint, the concept of the boundary object offers a useful starting point for understanding and analysing the role of the screenplay in audio-visual production.

Journal of Screenwriting Cover

The Journal of Screenwriting is an international double-blind peer-reviewed journal that is published three times a year. The journal highlights current academic and professional thinking about the screenplay and intends to promote, stimulate and bring together current research and contemporary debates around the screenplay whilst encouraging groundbreaking research in an international arena. The journal is discursive, critical, rigorous and engages with issues in a dynamic and developing field, linking academic theory to screenwriting practice. 

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