Knights in Tarnished Armour: Masculine Archetypes Subverted in the Work of Screenwriter and Novelist Alan Sharp

  • River Seager

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines the novels and screenplays of writer Alan Sharp (1934-2013), focusing on their representations of masculine heroic archetypes. Sharp is positioned as a highly cine-literate writer whose thematic project was to use genre heroes as representations of American culture, depicting different archetypes as representations of various stages of American Empire. Genre theory is engaged with, particularly the work of Siegfried Kracauer. Due to the existential themes in Sharp’s genre work, particularly a prevailing sense of a loss of meaning, several post-structuralist theorists are also engaged with in this analysis. Sharp’s genre heroes, it is suggested, face a traumatic awakening to the illusory nature of the ideologies they represent, and parallels are drawn to similar themes emerging at the time in post-structuralist philosophy and postmodern American literature. Concurrent to this, it is suggested that Sharp’s novels and screenplays are transmedial: they engage in formalist techniques of both literature and screenwriting, and his novels are pre-occupied with the cinema-going experience and its place in 20th Century society, lending them an intermedial quality. As part of this analysis, the unpublished, previously unread novel Picture Yourself (undated), a narrative about filmmakers that is presented as a synthesis between screenplay and novel styles, is analysed. Sharp’s genre heroes, it is suggested, are weighed down by the heroic images of their respective genres, while coming to terms with an American Empire that is presented as a site of contradictions and internal antagonisms.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBrian Hoyle (Supervisor) & Keith Williams (Supervisor)

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