If modern adaptation studies are at a crossroads as they allegedly retain an “unhelpful emphasis on the notions of essentialism originality, and cinematic equivalents to literary techniques” (168), how can this be alleviated moving forward?
After exploring to the problematic nature of modern adaptation studies in his aptly titled essay, “Adaptation at a Crossroads”, Thomas Leitch seemingly proposes a solution through his “Twelve Fallacies of Contemporary Adaptation Theory”. The root of his argument seems to indicate that adaptation studies in the present day are largely antiquated, alluding to dated tropes of adaptation studies like “fidelity is the most appropriate criterion in analyzing adaptations” (161) and “source texts are more original than adaptations” (162). On top of that, he defends the art of filmmaking as separate but equally creative and innovative medium; something that he believes adaptation critics neglect to do for the sake of praising the anterior simply for being first (the novel).
I largely agree with Leitch with regard to how adaptation criticism (whether it’s from a scholar or a fan on an Internet message board) is rooted in the championing of fidelity to the anterior and the tarnishing of everything that comes after it. In fact, I more or less agree with his argument on the whole. Even if the spirit of fidelity is removed from the narrow field of adaptation studies, we’re still mired in the comparing of literary apples to cinematic oranges. However, I find that Leitch seems to take a wait-and-see approach at the end of his “Twelve Fallacies” after tearing apart these myths about what must go into adaptation studies. He alludes to this idea of adaptation criticism morphing into an all-encompassing field he calls “Textual Studies”, but he seems to imply that there needs to be some sense of an armistice between film studies and literary studies as adaptation studies often put films and literature in conflict with one another. Ultimately, I find that Leitch is correct in his assertion that adaptation criticism is at a crossroads and he does well to pin point the problems, but he doesn’t provide a lot in terms of a solution beyond removing the divide between the two mediums and putting their study under one umbrella.