Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


English & Film Studies

Program Name/Specialization

Media, Technology, and Culture


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Russell Kilbourn

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Philippa Gates

Advisor Role

Dissertation Committee Member

Third Advisor

Sandra Annett

Advisor Role

Dissertation Committee Member


The primary purpose of this study is to re-evaluate the theorization of the narrative/non-narrative divide in cinema because there is still far too much rich information that is being lost in the chasm left between these two positions, particularly when it comes to the study of spectacular imagery. Working beyond the binary construction of a narrative/non-narrative divide allows for a more nuanced and dynamic analysis of the information that is conveyed by the cinematic image and, more specifically, by way of its aesthetic design. By no means is this study championing image over story or any other such formulation; rather it aims to free both image and story from the constraints of narratological binary models and the binary language of narratology, because in practice cinema does not adhere to narrative/non-narrative narratological models. It is through an exploration of contemporary theories of visual effects that I launch my investigation. I argue that there are many agents (and agencies) that convey information in the cinema and that not all information will come in a form that is easily described by narratological terminology. Visual effects have become a focal point of the narrative/non-narrative divide and thus provide a constructive territory in which to interrogate: (1) how visual effects theory influences the theorization of contemporary film aesthetics; (2) how as film theorists we have arrived at this moment in which narrative disruptions occupy such an integral part of digital film theory; and (3), what we are missing if we maintain our current binaristic narrative/non-narrative rhetoric. Ultimately, the purpose of this study is to propose a dynamic, non-binary model to address the post-narrative/non-narrative nature of cinema: the theory of aesthetic adaptation.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season