A lecturer from the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries has been awarded a prestigious Fellowship from the University of Texas. Dr Olly Gruner, Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at the University of Portsmouth, received the award for his research project “Writing the Hollywood Renaissance: Screenwriting and American Film, 1967-1980.”
The Fellowship will enable Dr Gruner to develop a detailed examination of iconic Hollywood productions, including the contribution of often underrated women screenwriters, and eventually to spend a month at the world-renowned research institute the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to engage with scholars across the Arts and Humanities”, said Olly, whose Fellowship is sponsored by the aptly-named Robert De Niro Endowed Fund. “I look forward to researching and discussing ideas.” He explained the background to his project as a rethinking and revisiting of one of the most celebrated periods of American film history.
“People talk about movies such as Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Five Easy Pieces as representatives of a golden age of cinema – a kind of Hollywood art film. But it’s always the directors who are celebrated. Actually, so many interesting visual concepts, daring themes and innovative stylistic devices are being developed by screenwriters. The screenplay was a place for experimentation and boundary-pushing – an artwork in its own right.”
Olly also said that moving away from directors enabled a break from the male-centred popular histories of the period. “With this Fellowship, I’ll be researching key women screenwriters such as Jay Presson Allen, Carole Eastman and Joan Tewksbury, who all contributed to some of the era’s most iconic productions, but have been overlooked in much of the literature.”