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Performing identity in contemporary biographical documentary

Performing identity in contemporary biographical documentary
Performing identity in contemporary biographical documentary
My thesis addresses the role performance plays in contemporary documentary. I focus on case studies where performance techniques (reconstruction, use of actors) are used and my discussion analyses the distinctive effects that are created. A distinction is made between performance and performative, as defined by J.L. Austin, Judith Butler, Stella Bruzzi, et al., and this is then connected to Erving Goffman’s work on social performance to argue that numerous documentaries actively engage with how identity is socially constructed. My aim is to highlight that implementing elements of performance into non-fiction film is a technique used by the filmmaker to include the spectator in negotiations of meaning in such films, centring on definitions of identity and how we all perform in everyday life. Historically, documentary film has been theorised in terms of its objectivity and that any use of fictional techniques undermines its main purpose. My research challenges this longstanding definition and acknowledges that the use of a performative visual framework can provide an audience with a wider understanding of how they define, shape and perform their various ‘selves.’ Chapter topics include 'Autobiography', 'Sports and Music Documentaries', and 'LGBTQ+ Documentaries'.
University of Southampton
Vaughan, Adam
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Vaughan, Adam
6181b5ad-a95f-4854-a620-d5f903c43374
Mazdon, Lucy E
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Williams, Michael
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Vaughan, Adam (2019) Performing identity in contemporary biographical documentary. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 212pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

My thesis addresses the role performance plays in contemporary documentary. I focus on case studies where performance techniques (reconstruction, use of actors) are used and my discussion analyses the distinctive effects that are created. A distinction is made between performance and performative, as defined by J.L. Austin, Judith Butler, Stella Bruzzi, et al., and this is then connected to Erving Goffman’s work on social performance to argue that numerous documentaries actively engage with how identity is socially constructed. My aim is to highlight that implementing elements of performance into non-fiction film is a technique used by the filmmaker to include the spectator in negotiations of meaning in such films, centring on definitions of identity and how we all perform in everyday life. Historically, documentary film has been theorised in terms of its objectivity and that any use of fictional techniques undermines its main purpose. My research challenges this longstanding definition and acknowledges that the use of a performative visual framework can provide an audience with a wider understanding of how they define, shape and perform their various ‘selves.’ Chapter topics include 'Autobiography', 'Sports and Music Documentaries', and 'LGBTQ+ Documentaries'.

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Published date: May 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 433268
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/433268
PURE UUID: 1be30741-bc1f-43d6-8b5f-8a4d91971b68

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 12 Aug 2019 16:30
Last modified: 12 Aug 2019 16:30

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Contributors

Author: Adam Vaughan
Thesis advisor: Lucy E Mazdon
Thesis advisor: Michael Williams

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