(Indie)mediality: Intermediality in Contemporary American Independent Film

Jonathan Mack

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Intermediality has become an umbrella term for a heterogeneous group of concepts as diverse as the creation of an entirely new medium and the mere quotation of a work from one medium in another. Intermedial analyses of specific film texts have appeared sporadically but have shed remarkable light on the influence of other media on film narrative, structure and visual style. This PhD takes intermediality to be, as Irina Rajewsky describes it, instances in which film ‘thematises, evokes or imitates elements or structures of another, conventionally distinct medium through the use of its own media-specific means.’ Using this definition as a starting point, this project applies the concept of intermediality to films that deal specifically with arts and media within their narratives, or that are adaptations from another medium, across the American independent cinema landscape since 1990. In this way, a typology of media interaction and intermediality within film texts is developed in relation to their relative position in the American ‘indie’ tradition. Although the thesis uses a primarily industrial definition of ‘independence’, this work also applies a number of criteria constituting a particular ‘indie’ aesthetic to these films, as outlined by experts in the field like Geoff King and Michael Z Newman. This enables additional links to be identified in regard to whether intermediality is utilised differently in particularly ‘alternative’ or more ‘mainstream’ film content. This methodology has demonstrated that intermediality plays a significant role in many American ‘indie’ films strategies of differentiation from the mainstream. Additionally, correlations have been discovered such as particular distributors’ preference for contacting specific types of media, as well their willingness (or otherwise) to engage in such potentially alienating and experimental content as intermediality and metareference.
Original languageEnglish
  • Hunter, Russ, Supervisor
Publication statusIn preparation - Oct 2015


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