The Philosophy of



Fourteen bold and engaging original essays on his screenplays and films

written by more than a dozen scholars from diverse fields of inquiry.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


for Charlie Kaufman


Best Adapted Screenplay, Nominated, ADAPTATION

Best Original Screenplay, Nominated, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH

Other volumes in The Philosophy of Popular Culture series:

July 5th-6th, 2010

Panel discussion on The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman

at Swansea University, Wales UK with three contributors to the volume

- Department of Political and Cultural Studies

- Department of American Studies, offering an MA in

   “Hollywood and the World:  Transnational Perspectives on American Film”




K. L. Evans

Christopher Falzon

Mario von der Ruhr

David LaRocca

Douglas J. Den Uyl

William Day

Samuel A. Chambers

Garry L. Hagberg

Richard Deming

Derek Hill

Gregory E. Ganssle

David L. Smith

Daniel Shaw

hardback 2011

312 pp.

paperback 2019

344 pp.

ISBN 978-0-8131-3391-1


Introduction: Charlie Kaufman and Philosophy’s Questions

     David LaRocca

Part 1. On Being and Not Being One’s Self

Charlie Kaufman, Screenwriter

     K. L. Evans

On Being John Malkovich and Not Being Yourself

      Christopher Falzon

The Divided Self: Kaufman, Kafka, Wittgenstein, and Human Nature

      Mario von der Ruhr

Unauthorized Autobiography: Truth and Fact in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

      David LaRocca

Part 2. Being, or Trying to Be, with Others

Me and You: Identity, Love, and Friendship in the Films of Charlie Kaufman

      Douglas J. Den Uyl

I Don’t Know, Just Wait: Remembering Remarriage in Eternal Sunshine of the

Spotless Mind

      William Day

Charlie Kaufman, Philosophy, and the Small Screen

      Samuel A. Chambers

The Instructive Impossibility of Being John Malkovich

      Garry L. Hagberg

Part 3. Being in the World, Partially

Living a Part: Synecdoche, New York, Metaphor, and the Problem of Skepticism

     Richard Deming

“There’s No More Watching”: Artifice and Meaning in Synecdoche, New York

and Adaptation

     Derek Hill

Human Nature and Freedom in Adaptation

     Gregory E. Ganssle

Synecdoche, in Part

      David L. Smith

Nietzschean Themes in the Films of Charlie Kaufman

      Daniel Shaw

Inconclusive Unscientific Postscript: Late Remarks on Kierkegaard and Kaufman

      David LaRocca


List of Contributors


The University Press of Kentucky
The Philosophy of Popular Culture
Mark T. Conard, Series Editor

June 19, 2011

Interview about The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman with Charlie Dyer

during the Palm Springs International ShortFest

click to listen

The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman

was nominated for

Best Edited Collection


The Society for Cinema and Media Studies



Everyone’s Autobiography

Remarks on Anxiety and Pseudonymity in the work of

Soren Kierkegaard and Charlie Kaufman

The New York Public Library

South Court Auditorium

February 16, 2012

click to listen

Screening & Talk

The Anxiety of Autobiography:

Names, Narratives, and the Invention of ‘Something Big and True and Tough’ in Synecdoche, New York

as part of the series THINKING AT THE MOVIES, May 4-6th, 2012

Charlie Kaufman, Screenwriter (and Director)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

7:00 PM

Le Moyne College

Grewen Auditorium, Grewen Hall

Syracuse, New York

co-sponsored by the Syracuse International Film Festival

click for info

The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman is

now the basis of an eponymous university course

a Freshman Honors Colloquium in Philosophy

taught by Professor William J. Devlin at

Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Fall 2012

This course explores the philosophical ideas of screenwriter and director Charlie Kaufman, as demonstrated in such films as the Academy-Award-winning Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Being John Malkovich (1999), Human Nature (2001), Adaptation (2002), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Synecdoche, New York (2008). Kaufmann’s films have had a widespread success in theatres, and he has developed a cult following that collectively refer to the above films as "Kaufman films" even if he only served as a screenwriter. As such, this course examines the philosophy of Charlie Kaufman as a writer through film.  We will discuss such philosophical perspectives throughout many of the Kaufman films, such as Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, as well as philosophical themes of identity and love. We will also analyze philosophical topics demonstrated in specific films, such as the notion of freedom in Adaptation, memories and value in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the notion of selfhood in Human Nature. We will explore these perspectives, themes, and topics through the book, The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman. Students will write a 3-5 page paper concerning a specific philosophical topic related to the readings, class discussion, and the Kaufman films. Students will also be expected to be familiar with, and have access to, these films for review.

click for info
click to hear interviewThe_Philosophy_of_Charlie_Kaufman_files/Charlie%20Kaufman_KLEvans_proof.pdf

Radio Interview

  1. K.L. Evans discusses her essay

“Charlie Kaufman, Screenwriter,”

and the film Adaptation

on the radio show TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE

February 2013

interviewed by Jim Fleming

produced by Doug Gordon

Now available in PAPERBACK

With a New Preface by the Editor