The 'author' in theory and documentary practice: authorship, (auto)biography and shared textual authority

Kerr, Paul (2013) The 'author' in theory and documentary practice: authorship, (auto)biography and shared textual authority. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


There is an inherent irony in assembling a range of published and broadcast outputs which share my name, for the precise purpose of contextualising them in a Commentary concerned with interrogating the very idea of individual authorship. This submission consists of a number of such outputs, the work of over three decades, ranging from academic publications to broadcast television programmes. The former group are attributed to me; the latter include my name among the credits, either as producer, director, executive producer or a combination of the three. The accompanying Commentary aims to set the submitted work in context, demonstrate that it constitutes a coherent whole, and that it makes an independent and original contribution to knowledge and to the advancement of these two academic and professional fields.
A number of overlapping contexts are summarised here: the history of theoretical ideas of authorship in film (and media) studies, a field in which several of this candidate’s own publications intervened; a brief sketch of the academic milieu in which media practice as research developed, to whose RAE 2008 Unit of Assessment several broadcast documentary examples, attributed to this candidate, were submitted and valorised and which now constitute part of this submission; a discussion of the ways in which authorship has been variously addressed within that documentary practice; and, finally, a consideration of how the theoretical concepts of ‘shared textual authority’ and ‘collaborative authorship’ can be deployed to analyse and, indeed, complicate conventionally auteurist readings of the (auto)biographical and oral history documentaries included in this submission.
These discrete but interlocking discussions form the major sections here, together with a brief introduction and conclusion. An appendix lists the candidate’s relevant publications and productions, while another lists conference presentations. In addition, the documentation includes, as required, statements by explicit co-authors.

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