Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nancy Hayward, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

William O. Boggs, D.A.


Writer’s block is an issue that continues to persist in popular culture, even if it is a discussion that has been nearly abandoned in recent years. As example, a review for the film Stranger Than Fiction (2006) notes that the main character, Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is suffering from “intense writer’s block,” but fails to elaborate on what that phrase means, thus indicating that the reader would already understand this term without explanation (McCarthy, 2006). This study made use of the power of popular culture, specifically film, to engage writing students in an exploration of their beliefs about writer’s block. Through the research methods of surveys, observation, paper analysis, and interviews, data revealed that students entered the participating composition classrooms with preconceived understandings of writer’s block. Additionally, student ideas of writers block were influenced, in some cases dramatically so, by clips of the film Stranger Than Fiction (2006) that were shown as part of this study. The impact of this study is clear. In Writer’s Block: The Cognitive Dimension, Mike Rose (1984) indicates that, although writer’s block is commonly discussed, “it is one of the least studied dysfunctions of the composing process” (p. 1). This dissertation study opens a discussion that has been nearly abandoned since the 1980s through the modern and oft-used method of film use in the composition class.