Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Program

Creative Writing

First Advisor/Chairperson

Joshua MacIvor-Andersen

Second Advisor

Cheryl Reed

Abstract

When an artist releases a project into the global marketplace, it is difficult to say that it is “their” project from that point onward. Once an artistic work is made accessible to the public, it all but becomes public property as it is reinterpreted and re-released in different forms. In the case of literature, everything from plagiarism to unauthorized publishing can take place. Some methods of “stealing,” such as fan fiction, have less of an impact and can be viewed as harmless appreciation (as long as there is no profit being made). But other forms of theft, like the illegal distribution of an author’s work in digital form, are blatant abuses of copyright against the artist and the distributors and can directly affect the profit from legitimate book sales. However, such content hijacking is not a new, Internet-based phenomenon, nor is it a process that is restricted to outside interference from the public. For centuries, authors have had to deal with unwanted tampering to their work from within the writing profession itself-- from co-writers, editors and publishers, as well as from the companies that their stories, novellas or novels have been sold to. This thesis focuses on Meyer Levin‘s Compulsion, as it made the journey from being the first “documentary novel” and bestselling book into a Broadway production, and the author‘s struggles to maintain control over his written work. The intent of this thesis is to examine the numerous struggles faced by Compulsion on its journey into the world of theater and film, and the efforts and sacrifices made by all those involved to not only finish their respective projects but to present strong, important and powerful content to its audiences.

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