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"From Thanatos to Eros": A Phenomenological Case Study of Post-Graduate Drama Students

James, Adrian (2010). "From Thanatos to Eros": A Phenomenological Case Study of Post-Graduate Drama Students. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis focuses on the lived experience of a group of post-graduate drama students as they undergo a one year vocational Master of Arts in Acting at a major London Drama School. It attempts to understand why mature and well qualified adults sacrifice financially rewarding and secure employment in order to train for an industry in which they have little chance of even a subsistence level of paid employment in the years following graduation.

The project was conducted from a non-positivistic basis where knowledge, truth and reality are seen as the subjective, context-bound, normative and political products of a social community, and not as the value-neutral products of a disinterested researcher. The research design was based on a series of 14 extended semi-structured interviews with current and ex-students, formal participant observation over a period of a year, and both formal and solicited documentary evidence covering a four year period.

The epistemology is phenomenological. It is a descriptive, hermeneutic, longitudinal, single case study and a reflexive commentary on the research process.

Data are presented in two forms; firstly through themes and elements in relationship to the relevant literature, and secondly as a drama-documentary screenplay, charting the experience of the students as they progress through the course.

The findings suggest that the participants are searching for self-actualisation through personal integrity and a creative purpose.

The research proposes that face-to-face relationships, reflexive and sensitive pedagogy, a permissive, non-judgemental "safe space" and the disciplined development of the histrionic sensibility through the study of action is productive in developing individuals able to self-actualise and flourish creatively within the increasing demands and conflicting ideologies of a highly competitive creative industry.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
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