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The words that make pictures move: an implicit theory of viewer empathy in the tacit knowledge of expert screenwriters
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 15:30 authored by Steven Vidler
Screenwriters have been neglected by film theory as a primary source of knowledge concerning how the experience of viewing narrative film is constructed. In this thesis I argue that by directly interrogating expert screenwriters' conceptions and practices we may develop better theories of how film is understood. As evidence, I explore screenwriters' understanding of one aspect of narrative film: viewer engagement with character. I identify an implicit theory of viewer empathy in the tacit knowledge of expert screenwriters. I situate this implicit theory within the context of recent cognitive film theory. And I evaluate specific narrative strategies generated by this theory, with reference to current cognitive neuroscience. By doing so, I aim to demonstrate that by directly considering the knowledge of expert screenwriters we may enhance understanding of how film is understood.