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Title: Contemporary British coming-of-age films (1979 to the present day)
Author: Maslin, Philippa Zielfa
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 064X
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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Locating itself in relation to existing work on youth in, primarily American cinema, the thesis questions the analytical usefulness of conceptualising the 'youth/teen film' as a genre and, instead, seeks to establish the value of analysing the 'coming-of-age film' as a genre involving the employment of adolescent protagonists. In setting out to do so, it focuses on films which are set in Britain, made from 1979 onwards, and rarely discussed as coming-of-age films (or, indeed, youth/teen films), but which may be seen to benefit from such a critical approach. Following a survey of a range of anthropological, biological, historical, juridical, psychoanalytic, psychological and sociological approaches to adolescence, as well as scholarship on the literary precursor of the coming-of-age film, the Bildungsroman, and on the relationship between adolescence and cinema, a working definition of the coming-ofage genre is proposed. This then leads to an examination of the specific manifestation of the coming-of-age film in contemporary British cinema. Contemporary British coming-of-age films, it is argued, may be divided into three central strands - male adolescent protagonists, female adolescent protagonists, and adolescent protagonists from a minority 'racial' and/or ethnic background - and discussion of a wide range of films reveals how the variables of class, gender, 'race', ethnicity, and sexuality are shown to shape the identity formation of the assorted protagonists within the selected films, as well as intersect with social, political, economic and cultural concerns of the period. Placing an emphasis upon the shared features of the films, the thesis also identifies how the repeated appearance of certain issues, character types, plot devices, and narrative arcs establish lines of continuity that cut across the generic hybridity, and thematic, formal and stylistic diversity of the body of work at hand. In particular, the thesis posits that there are three main types of trajectory (successful or failed individualisation and socialisation, and more ambivalent outcomes) - aligning the contemporary British coming-of-age film with the tradition of the European Bildungsroman - and exemplifies this in an exploration of the influence of British cinema's longstanding tradition of social realism upon the male-centred narratives. Furthermore, the thesis identifies the importance of the figure of the brother to a number of the stories of male adolescence, and the significance of the configuration of the girl and the man to many of the tales of female adolescence. Moreover, a focus on the treatment of 'race' and ethnicity reveals how the contemporary British coming-of-age film is a popular vehicle for the interrogation of the experiences of first, second and third-generation immigrants. In this way, the thesis establishes the importance of the category of the coming-of-age film for an understanding of some of the key themes and concerns of contemporary British cinema.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Coming-of-age films ; British cinema ; Contemporary British cinema ; Youth film ; Teen film ; Adolescence ; Adolescents