Adaptation Studies: New Approaches

Adaptation Studies: New Approaches

Adaptation Studies: New Approaches

Adaptation Studies: New Approaches


This collection of essays offers a sustained, theoretically rigorous rethinking of various issues at work in film and other media adaptations. The essays in the volume as a whole explore the reciprocal, intertextual quality of adaptations that permeate the contemporary media experience from books, to films, to music, to graphic novels. The central argument in this book is that texts in various media always borrow, rework, and adapt each other in complex ways; in addition, the authors in this volume explore the specific forces (social, economic, historical, and authorial) that are at work in particular texts and intertexts. Together, the fourteen essays emphasize that adaptations, in the intersections they create across different media, inhabit a sort of cross-fertilization that is both artistically productive and affirmative of difference. The volume takes as its starting point the assumption that adapters cannot simply transpose or transfer one particular text from one medium to another. They must interpret, re-work, and re-imagine the precursor text in order to choose the various meanings and sensations they find most compelling (or most cost-effective); then, they create scenes, characters, plot elements, etc., that match their interpretation. These very relationships are the subject matter this collection seeks to explore. Poststructural theory is an ideal place to begin a rigorous and theoretically sound investigation of adaptation. As adaptation studies adopts a poststructuralist lens and defines this richer notion of intertextuality, some of its key assumptions will change. Adaptation scholars will recognize that all film adaptations are intertextual by definition, mutlivocal by necessity, and adaptive by their nature. This book brings together innovative, original work from fourteen scholars in the fields of adaptation studies, media studies, and critical theory. It includes essays of theoretical concern in adaptation studies as well as essays that engage with specific single and multi-source adaptations (among them, film adaptations of Jane Austen and James Joyce's fiction, Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, David Lynch's Lost Highway, and George Romero's Night of the Living Dead). The volume is divided into three interrelated sections: Fidelity, Ethics, and Intertextuality; Literature, Film Adaptations, and Beyond; and Adaptation as Departure. Overall, it promises to help move the study of adaptation from the fringe of critical studies to the more central role it can and should fulfill in the complex contemporary media landscape."


Christa Albrecht-Crane and Dennis Cutchins

The study of adaptation needs to be joined with the study of re
cycling, remaking, and every other form of retelling in the age of
mechanical reproduction and electronic communication. By this
means, adaptation will become part of a general theory of repeti
tion, and adaptation study will move from the margins to the cen
ter of contemporary media studies.

—James Naremore, Film Adaptation

You can’t say the same thing with a moving picture as you can with
a book any more than you can express with paint what you can
with plaster.

—William Faulkner

FILMS AND NEW MEDIA HAVE, IN LARGE MEASURE, ASSUMED MANY OF the roles novels and short stories used to occupy in Western society. J. Hillis Miller argues that “forces of economic, political, and technological globalization” have eclipsed the traditional value of literature: while the novel used to provide society with the primary means of delivering “narratives,” Miller argues that in recent decades new media have increasingly taken up that role. In the process, film and other media have not only assumed the role of literature in delivering narratives, they have also adapted and incorporated a great deal from works of literature. Since 1995, for instance, more than half of the sixty-five films nominated for Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were based on works of literature. In the fourteen years between 1995 and 2008, eight of the winners were adaptations. Despite the dominant role adaptation has played in the film industry, however, adaptation theory has progressed very little since the 1950s. Recent works by Robert Stam notwithstanding, adaptation studies has steadfastly resisted adopting critical new insights offered in literature and media studies, particularly by poststructural theories.

Most noticeably, scholars in adaptation studies continue focusing . . .

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