Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Megan Becker-Leckrone

Number of Pages



Film and fiction are the sister arts of the twentieth century. Like any family, their relationship has not always been a tranquil one, but no other combination of arts over the last century has inspired the amount of debate and dialogue that they have, both in and out of academia. Beginning with George Bluestone's seminal Novels into Film (1957), academic involvement with film and fiction have primarily used two modes of comparative studies: adaptation and stylistics. The first compares a novel to its cinematic adaptation and the second compares a particular literary form with a cinematic technique. Although both approaches are helpful ways of understanding film and the novel, comparative studies foreground a reliance on the theorist's ability to construct a set of similarities and differences between the two mediums. As an alternative, I propose that a careful examination of the literary representation of cinema can produce several productive insights into the relationship between the two arts while avoiding the impressionistic pitfalls of comparative studies; Although I organize this project historically, I do not rely heavily on historical analysis. Instead, I attempt to identify key moments or turning points in the history of writing-cinema and provide close-readings that ultimately come together to produce an overall narrative of the changing nature of film, film theory, and the way these changes are portrayed in the novel. First, I place my argument within historical image/text debates and contemporary discussions concerning cinema and the novel. Then, I trace the various means by which film and film theory are represented in the American novel, beginning with Henry Leon Wilson's Merton of the Movies (1919) and ending with Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves (2000). I continue with two close readings of Robbe-Grillet's Last Year at Marienbad (1961) and Robert Coover's The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (2002), two works that use cinema as a means of defining and governing the novel's universe while also allegorizing a our own increasingly media-saturated culture. In the concluding chapter, I offer a cinematic response to my first four chapters by examining movies that ask the viewer to read on screen. Beginning with the intertitles of silent cinema and moving into diegetic images of text, I explore the commonly conceived function of text as a means of applying temporal order in cinema and suggest that even the earliest films to use text both subvert and challenge this role. Using Freud's model of the "Mystic Writing Pad" as an model and Christopher Nolan's film Memento (2000) as an example, I argue that these images of writing can repress as much as they seem to reveal, ultimately challenging the supplemental function that text is often assigned; As a whole, this dissertation provides a close reading of several artifacts that are linked by the manner in which cinema and literature represent one another. It offers a formal and even somewhat historical alternative to comparative studies in adaptation and stylistics, and although it is primarily grounded in American novels, it presents an excellent starting point for extending the investigation into world literature and cinematic representations of the novel; All images and film stills in this project pass the four factor balancing test and are therefore covered under the Fair Use Guidelines described in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107.


American Literature; Cine-romans; Cinema; Cinematic Style; Coover, Robert; Danielewski, Mark; Deconstructive Theory; Film And Literature; Image/text Debates; Novel; Robbe-Grillet, Alain; Wilson, Henry Leon; Writing

Controlled Subject

Comparative literature; American literature; Motion pictures--Study and teaching

File Format


File Size

3778.56 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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