Call For Papers: ‘Adventures in Textuality – Adaptation in the Twenty-First Century

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Two-Day International Conference: University of Sunderland
3rd/ 4th April 2013.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Dr. Will Brooker (author of ‘Hunting the Dark Knight: Twenty-First Century Batman’, ‘Batman Unmasked’ and editor of ‘The Blade Runner Experience’).
  • Professor Christine Geraghty (author of ‘Now a Major Motion Picture: Film Adaptations of Literature and Drama; ‘Foregrounding the Media: Atonement as Adaptation’; and the BFI TV monograph, ‘Bleak House’).
  • Professor Jonathan Gray (author of ‘Show Sold Separately’; ‘Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World’; and ‘Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody and Intertextuality’).

In the twenty-first century, adaptation studies has become a figurative combat zone. Some commentators, armed with post-structuralist weapons of dialogism and intertextuality, decry the  analysis of dyadic relationships between source and target text given the wealth of enunciations spiralling within what Jim Collins calls the ‘intertextual array’ (1992: 331) Across the post-millennial landscape, digital convergence and transmediality have shifted adaptation studies foci from what Murray describes as an ‘academic backwater…intellectually parochial, methodologically hidebound and institutionally risible’ into ‘an inclusivist conception of adaptation as a freewheeling cultural process: flagrantly transgressing cultural and media hierarchies, wilfully cross-cultural, and more weblike than straightforwardly linear in its creative dynamic’ (Murray, 2012: 2). Indeed, the turn to poststructuralist models of adaptation have led to a dialogic widening of the analytical playing field to include the many varied utterances of convergence culture which include, but are not limited to: film, comic books, theme park rides, TV, literature, merchandising, and computer games. This orchestration of cross-platform, or transmedia storytelling, is ‘clearly…adaptation operating under a different name’ (ibid: 17). For some, adaptation is not a simple conjunction of source and translation, but a dialogic sphere of influence, appropriation and citation. From this position, all texts borrow, steal and assimilate from a wellspring of textual enunciations which demonstrate a “long chain of parasitical presences, echoes, allusions, guests [and] ghosts of previous texts” (Miller 2005: 22) that have no static, explicit origin point. Stam argues that critics should ‘be less concerned with inchoate notions of fidelity and give more attention to dialogic responses (Stam 2000: 76). The rigid binarisms of ‘original’ and ‘copy’ give way to what Jacques Derrida calls ‘mutual invagination’ where the ‘auratic prestige of the original does not run counter to the copy; rather, the prestige of the original is created by the copies, without which the very idea of originality has no meaning’ (Stam, 2007: 8). Perhaps, when it comes to questions of fidelity, it ‘is time to move on’? (Geraghty, 2008: 1)

For some commentators, however, fidelity is, and remains, an important critical issue. According to Dudley Andrew (2011:27), ‘Fidelity is the umbilical cord that nourishes the judgement of ordinary viewers [yet] for some time, the leading academic trend has ignored or disparaged this concern with fidelity’. As Geraghty puts it, ‘faithfulness matters if it matters to the viewer’ (2008: 3)). In True to the Spirit: Film Adaptation and the Question of Fidelity (MacCabe et al, 2011:216), Fredric Jameson argues that excessive fidelity is annoying and that for original and copy to have equal merit then ‘the film must be utterly different from, utterly unfaithful to, its original’ (ibid:218). Other contributors to this volume discuss the dyadic relationship between novel and film, but offer something rather different to simple comparative hand-wringing and ‘the book is better than the film’ denunciations. For some, the adaptation is a different text altogether, while others claim that the translation is but one enunciation connected in an eternal ‘phantasmal spiderweb’ of heteroglossia and remediation (Miller 1990: 139). Rather than acknowledging that it is time to move on from fidelity analysis, is it not, rather, time to recognise the validity of multiple to approaches to the thorny topic of adaptation?

This conference invites papers on ALL aspects of adaptation and aims to provide a linchpin for all divergent and convergent strands of this burgeoning field. Papers are invited on the following topics:

Fidelity; Comparative Analysis; Audiences; Dialogism; Intertextuality; Post-Structuralism; Remakes and Reboots; Franchising; Sequels, series and serials; Transmedia Storytelling; Industry; Film; Comic Books; TV; Theme Park Rides; Animation; Computer Games; Merchandising; Paratexts.

This list is not exhaustive: any topic will be considered that fits in with the scheme described above. Panel proposals will be considered.

Abstract Deadline: 1st October 2012.

Conference Organisers: William Proctor; Professor John Storey. Email for Abstracts and all queries: billyproctor@hotmail.co.uk

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