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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.