Adaptation Theory Today [Web Class]

[Note: refresh your webpage occasionally to see an updated post and to see your peers’ comments.]

Prewriting (15 minutes):

1) Evaluate your courses:

2) Vote on our film (poll closes by end of class):

3) Leave a one-sentence comment saying what you hope to discover while watching this film.

Part 1 (25 minutes): (to come at 4:45)
Look at the list of Leitch’s questions from last time, particularly #6, #7, #12, and #14.

Look (quickly) at one or two of the videos from last time.

Using the videos as examples, leave a comment of 2-3 sentences that offers a tentative answer to one of Leitch’s questions. If you finish early, respond to some of your peers.

Part 2 (20 minutes): (to come at 5:10)
Consider the problem of “laymen” that J.D. Connor raises in “The Persistence of Fidelity,” particularly in the last paragraph and in the section on authority. To help you, here’s a link to a (rough draft) Harvard Outline (but with full sentences) of Connor’s essay:

In your own words, leave a comment summarizing Connor’s stance on the divide between laymen and critics.

Part 3 (20 minutes): (to come at 5:30)
Now, take a look at a movie review aggregator site like Metacritic (or Rotten Tomatoes), which averages together a wide range of reviews from across the web to create one ranking score:

Here’s how Metacritic describes itself:

Here’s how they describe their method:

What do you think Connor would say about these kinds of aggregating websites? Do you think they help the layman continue to “raise fidelity questions,” or instead do they help the critics “silence that conversation of judgment”? Answer this question by replying to one of the comments your peers made in Part 2. (i.e., reply to their “comment summarizing Connor’s stance on the divide between laymen and critics,” and extend it by discussing the concept of movie aggregation websites).

Part 4 (25 minutes): (to come at 5:50)

Now let’s turn to Linda Hutcheon. Our fifth Learning Outcome is for students to be able to answer the following questions:

~ How did early film theorists define cinema as an art distinct from other arts?

~ How do theories of “how fiction works” relate to the cinema, and where do they fall short?

~ Why did the early film industry see literature as the “obvious” source for films?

~ What features are pointed to when calling adaptations “successful” or “unsuccessful”?

~ Why and how has the contemporary American film industry encouraged transgenre adaptation, tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels, appropriations, etc?

Pick one of these questions, and answer it in a longish paragraph, using your understanding of Linda Hutcheon’s argument to support your claim.

Part 5 (5 minutes): (to come at 6:15)

Whew, that’s it! One last thing: leave a sentence comment telling me in general what you think of this online format for class.

Our film for next time is: The Dark Knight (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2008, 152m). Let me know ASAP if you think you will have trouble locating a copy.

I’ll see you next Thursday.

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About Kevin L. Ferguson

Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing at Queens
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140 Responses to Adaptation Theory Today [Web Class]

  1. Laura Callei says:

    I voted for The Dark Knight- mainly because I like the film the best out of the other two choices (I would have preferred Road to Perdition or A History of Violence). What I hope to learn from this film is how it does as an adaptation. I have not read the comics so I am curious to see how our comic fans view the film to the comics.

  2. Mike Ketive says:

    As a bit of a Batman nerd (and as such, having seen it several times and owning it on DVD), I also voted for The Dark Knight. But beyond that, I hope to see how we might apply adaptation criticism to the adaptation of a lore surrounding a particular figure (Batman in this case) as opposed to the adaptation of literature with a finite sequence of events.

    • I hope the “Batman nerds” will help us fill in the backstory–but as Mike said I think it’s important that we approach this one less an adaptation of a single text than the “lore surrounding a particular figure.”

  3. trevor11 says:

    I voted to TDK because out of the three it is the one I am most familiar with in terms of source material and the film itself as well as its creation. I also enjoy it the most out of the three. Additionally and funnily enough, despite the fact that TDK is my favorite comic book character and superhero I actually would have also very much liked watching road to perdition or history of violence, the former of which I have not seen. Batman’s still awesome though.

    • trevor11 says:

      Forgot to put this at the end: I’d like to see how the theories we’ve been discussing would apply to something I know and enjoy well and see if it changes my perspective on it at all.

    • Now we’re getting all these votes for Road to Perdition and History of Violence?! You guys should check these out over the break if you’re interested…

  4. I voted for The Dark Knight as well, because even though I’ve already seen it a number of times, I still really enjoy watching it. I think I usually approach it as pure entertainment, and the only real thought I’ve put into the film is the effect that Heath Ledger’s death has on the tone of the picture (it’s impossible for me not to sit there in awe of his performance and then to feel really saddened, and maybe a little creeped out, by the thought that he died because of his absorption into the role and all that he could have been had he not died so young and suddenly). It will be interesting to consider it from a more academic standpoint.

  5. I am hoping to learn how the questions we keep asking about faithfulness to source texts change when dealing with multiple source texts – especially comics. Is it even possible to pose the question – what’s “better” – the film or the comic series??

  6. I will like to see if I can recognize a specific theories of adaptation that are in use and why Nolan chose to incorprate one theory over another.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I voted Spider-Man because I figured everyone would vote Batman. I know this is a terrible reason, but its the truth. I am a huge nerd so all three of these choices were appealing; however, Spider-Man, though not the best film, is my favorite character. Ultimately, I hope to understand and identify with The Dark Knight on a more scholastic level (what modes it employs, how music and edits better the adaptation, etc.)

  8. Melissa M says:

    I also picked the Dark Knight. I am hoping to see how this adaptation differs from the others. I have seen it previously, but only because Heath Ledger was in it. It will be interesting to compare the different adaptations of the joker.

  9. Raj says:

    I voted for TDK and like Mike Ketive I’m interested in analyzing a film that adapts particular archetypes rather than a specific story/storyline; I think this is particularly interesting for a comic book movie since most standard/hero-driven comics tend to refresh their characters after some time by either rebooting story-lines or introducing new books, but do so while keeping primary elements in tact (e.g. Bruce’s parents will always die when he’s a child.)

  10. I voted for The Dark Knight, and, since I’ve seen it quite a few times, I’m looking forward to seeing what new things I’ll discover in the context of what we’ve discussed this semester. What those things may I honestly have no idea, since I’ve already done enough thinking on my own about this film. But we’ll see.

  11. Dana Choit says:

    I voted for Superman II mainly because I have never seen the movie. I have seen both The Dark Knight and Spiderman, so I wanted to watch something new. I haven’t read any of the comics that correspond to either of the three choices, so regardless of which film wins (though based on everyone’s comments so far I have a pretty good guess on which one will come out on top) I’d be interested to take a look at the comic book texts that they are adapted from, and then see if we can apply any theories or terms that we have discussed. Is there a strong level of fidelity? “spirit” , etc.

    • You should watch Superman II! It had a mixed-up production history (people dying, directors getting fired).
      But the IMDB trivia page says this, about how the film achieves a “comic-book” look via film technique: “Similarly, the composition of shots the trio developed for Superman II had objects and people crammed into the frame. To further emphasize comic book composition, the action was photographed from one angle, to give the film a desired flatness. “

  12. amelia daly says:

    I am not familiar with the batman comic books so I am not sure how to view this movie. I love this film and have seen it several times. I am hoping that having seen it a lot will give me more ability to observe a little easier.

  13. Sara Tener says:

    I selected the Dark Night because I felt that, out of the three, I would be able to make the most out of it with respect to my presentation. I am not familiar with comics, but I have seen every Batman movie, and I did watch the old Adam West television series occassionally.

  14. Jeff says:

    I voted for The Dark Knight mainly because Batman does not boast extra-human powers and felt therefore that discussion of adapting Batman stories to film are less likely to be dependent on special effects and would lend its more readily to other adaptations.

    • Raj says:

      C’mon, the ability to radically change from Bruce Wayne’s whiny rich boy voice to Batman’s gravely crazy person voice has got to be an extra-human power.

  15. I’m batting 500. First I posted as anonymous please disregard that. Then I posted this comment in the wrong section. Please forgive my lapse in brainpower today. I think I’ve finally gotten on track.

    I voted for Spider-Man because I figured the majority vote would go to TDK. Though this is a terrible reason for my choice, it is the truth. Ultimately, TDK is a superior film that explores a multitude of themes, as well as implores various adaptive techniques. Through its use of the character’s iconography, Nolan and company create a fantastic movie, and I hope to examine it with a more refined adaptive lens. In doing this, I really want to play closer attention to James Gordon and his relationship to Gotham, Batman, and the police (law). This is broad, but I think James Gordon is a very interesting and rich character that is a middle ground of everyone from Gotham, Batman, the Joker, and the police.

  16. trevor11 says:

    Looking at the trailer for Drive when examining or attempting to respond to Leitch’s 6th fallacy leads be to believe Leitch is quite mistaken when stating that novels offer more immediate access to a characters psychological state thereby meaning that novels are more complex. Drive however is one, a great film, and 2 extremely psychologically mysterious in terms of breaking down Ryan Goslings character and his true motivations. Its difficult to really determine what he is thinking or what really, sorry for the pun here, drives him. I would argue that with films such as this that create a great cerebral atmosphere and don’t use ridiculous exposition to explain things, you can create deeply complex characters and films.

  17. Mike Salerno says:

    I voted for The Dark Knight since I love it to bits. I’m looking forward to watching the film with a newfound appreciation for filmmaking and film criticism, as well as analyzing the elements we learned about in our last online class (close-ups, camera angles, etc.)

  18. I chose to view the trailer for “Drive” and the spoof trailer for “Kart” in order to answer the question: When films self-consciously raise questions about their own status as adaptation, what general implications do they offer adaptation studies? I think it’s pretty straight-forward: Kart is obviously a spoof and not to be taken seriously, which raises a question about adaptations in the first place. Should any adaptations be taken seriously in the sense of fidelity? In other words, Kart is a “bad” adaptation spoof of Drive. Does that really cause the audience to think of Drive differently? [I’m not really positive that I’m making sense – now I wish we were in class so this would sound better!] I guess I’m just trying to say that some adaptations that are purposely “bad” may or may not be making a statement about adaptation – they may just be making the point that there should be no comparison between the original source text and the film adaptation.

    • Dana Choit says:

      I agree that the parody might not necessarily be saying anything about film adaptations0 maybe they are only commenting on the work that they are adapting? To answer your question, Does that really cause the audience to think of Drive differently? I might say yes. I haven’t seen Drive, but I think if you watch the trailer, then watch the Kart version, then go back to Drive, you would instantly be reminded of the funny moments in the Kart trailer and how they correspond to the Drive trailer. This might make you now see the Drive trailer in a different (maybe more silly, with less merit) way.

    • I like Dana’s point about how spoofs/remakes/parodies/etc. might effect how we view the “original.” Seems like part of the reason studios hire the big lawyers to “protect” their investment in films already made.

  19. Mike Ketive says:

    In comparing the “Drive” trailer to the “Kart” parody with regarding question #6, I would put it into a case-by-case basis. In this case, yes, the adaptation and the source material can be put into some sort of social context as both (even though one is a parody about Mario Kart) treat themselves as very serious pieces of media about the archetypal “hired gun who gets too personal”. Watching the “Kart” trailer, at least for me as I have not seen Drive, helps contextualize the story line, as I am more familiar with the characters of Super Mario Bros. than I am with Drive. Old childhood memories resurface, but that’s besides the point. When putting an adaptation into a different social context than the source material for the sake of appealing to a wider audience, the source material gains a greater contextual appeal.

    • amelia daly says:

      I agree that question six is case by case. The movie Drive has characters and plot not necessarily influenced by a particular context of time or place. Maybe having it set in LA creates some contextualization, but it is not necessary to the story. The Kart adaptation or “mash up” as the producers call it, certainly requires the context of the game and the movie drive to evoke its humor.

  20. Darwin Eng says:

    I won’t say what I voted for, but i am interested in learning about how different scenes can all be combined into one movie. As we discussed in class, the amount of comics within each one of these franchises are enormous. Therefore, the screenwriters must pick and choose which scenes, characters and events to use in the movie. Thus, how each one of these aspects chosen and integrated together to create a cohesive plot?

  21. Melissa M says:

    I watched the Kart trailer. Going on quetstion 14.How do concepts commonly treated by adaptation theorists as universal change when they cross national and cultural borders?
    I am not sure I understood this correctly, but I would say the accents were perhaps Russian, so different cultures require different adaptations. Would this adaptations nescessarily be popular in the US? Probably not.

    • Raj says:

      I thought they were going for Italian accents since Mario and Luigi are supposed to be Italian…and if that is what they were going for I don’t think they succeeded.

    • Even more complex: we have a Japanese video game character who is meant to be Italian and is/was enormously successful in the US.

  22. I’m going to respond to question 6 in regards to the trailer for “Kart.” The source and adaptation is not only subject to historical and cultural contextualization, it is tied to it inextricably. I’m sure there are some arguable exception to this, but I think this is true generally speaking. In this trailer, the Mario world is re-imagined in the context of modern day action movie like “Fast and the Furious.” Both modern day action moveis and Mario have the same archetypical characters. Mario and Luigi are the masculine heroes, peach is the damsel in distress, Bowser is the seemingly lecherous villain, Wario is the greedy one, etc. It’s not hard to take these characters and put them in mainstream, action movie culture because they’re using the same archetypes anyway. A lot of modern adaptations of Mario will put them into tough guy action movie worlds because of these parallels, as well as playing on the gangster genre, since Mario and Luigi are Italian. It would be counterintuitive to put them into any other context – you have to translate the archetypes into the way they’re being used today.

  23. I think that the movie and the source are subject to cultural and historical contextualization. I chose to watch Kart, the spoof of Drive. The spoof is that much more entertaining because I’m part of the target audience that played Mario Kart on Nintendo 64. ( I remember exactly where I was when I found out about it- 4th grade right before music class.) The spoof works because the audience is able to make that connection due to its cultural significance. N64 got discontinued. Drive features Ryan Gosling who is very awesome, but also very popular. This spoof makes audiences nostalgic because it references Mario Kart (something old) through the “adaptation” ( which I use very loosely here) of Drive, which is current.

    • I forget who said it, but I like the idea that “nostalgia” is a driving factor behind the success of many adaptations (maybe even being the only reason those adaptations were made).

  24. Darwin Eng says:

    I was particularly interested in the video “Kart”. which is a parody/spoof as well as an adaptation of the game Mario Kart (A game that I was obsessed with as a kid). Thinking about this in relation to the 12th question, it is clear that the movie is aware that it is a parody and adaptation of a video game. Like Mike has said, I have not seen drive, but the juxtaposition with a children’s video game against a serious drama suggests that adaptations can be over the top. Specific items such as characters or general plot are never changed, but merely emphasized. This is how, even though the clip is not called Mario Kart do viewers who are familiar with the game still understand the parody is about the game–the general aspects are kept making is recognizable, but it is funny because these aspects are exaggerated.

  25. Dana Choit says:

    When films self-consciously raise questions about their own status as adaptation, what general implications do they offer adaptation studies?

    In looking at the trailer for the Psycho adaptation, what struck me the most is that the trailer plays on the fact that it is an adaptation and that the audience will have prior knowledge of the overall narrative. It gives the twist ending of the first film throughout the trailer, that Norman and his mother are connected in some way, and that his mind has somehow warped the two together. Perhaps, in this case the film holds on to “the spirit of the original” but also takes it to a new place. The “general implication” might be that the goal is not to replicate, or produce a copy, but to create a new piece of conversation. Having not seen the film, only the trailer, it seems like maybe this film will focus on the psyche of Norman Bates throughout the film and interpret or comment on it in some way rather than use it as the surprise ending.

    • Good point that the trailer for the remake doesn’t really keep back any surprises…. it’s almost impossible to “spoil” that movie. But the director explicitly said he wanted to make a shot-by-shot remake, even down to the same camera movements etc…

  26. Marie Mosot says:

    6. Is the movie as well as its source subject to cultural and historical contextualization?
    Of course a film adaptation is subject to the same scrutiny as its source – why wouldn’t it be? For instance, the 1998 remake of Psycho begs the question: why remake it in the first place? To answer that question, one could look at how the film industry was doing at the time, the filmmakers involved and their motivations, any criticism written about Psycho in the years since Hitchcock’s film, etc. In doing so, it brings to light forces that shaped both the 1998 film and its source novel, forces that intersect and influence each other. (This sounds similar to my investigative proposal’s argument.)

    7. What questions about different kinds of fidelity do adaptations of other sorts of texts than canonical literary works raise?
    Do the 1998 Psycho remake and The Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation count in this case? On the surface, both are remakes of a specific film. But even those specific source films are an amalgamation of even more previous material. Indiana Jones, for instance, is based on serial films which featured characters going on numerous adventures and usually ending with the hero in peril so as to set the stage for the next film in the series (hence the term “cliffhanger”). In this case, fidelity to a previous work turns into a question of intertextuality.

    I’m not sure if any of this made sense because I’m rushing to meet the timed deadlines :D

  27. Raj says:

    “How must models of adaptation be modified to account for movies that demonstrably draw on other sources than their putative sourcetexts, some of them perhaps even more important in determining its textual strategies?”

    I took a look at the “Drive” spoof- “Kart” which is a pastiche of both the stylishly ultraviolent film and the whimsically safe-for-all-ages video game. Adaptations of video games to movies are a fairly recent phenomenon so I’m not sure how much has been written about that. Regardless, in such instances I think that the paying attention to fidelity–as proposed by Connor–as a means to not judge the worth of the adaptation vs. original but rather to investigate why a viewer would feel a strong tie to the primary text, would be of great use in developing the field of video game studies. Or perhaps interactive narrative studies, a form of narrative that (at least in newer games) allows for a player/reader to alter the course of the story. Forcing narratives based on such interactivity into a medium that is (or has been) so dominant in portraying one view of a story (e.g. the director’s, the studio’s, etc.) is interesting in that it raises questions such as Ray’s about why cinema has taken the particular form that it has (the 2 hour dramatic fictional story.)

  28. I think it’s interesting to consider question 7 (“What questions about different kinds of fidelity do adaptations of other sorts of texts than canonical literary works raise?”) in relation to the 1998 remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho, which was itself based on a novel. The novel was written by relatively well respected (at least within his own genre) writer Robert Bloch, and obviously Hitchcock’s adaptation is considered a masterpiece, both within the horror/suspense/thriller genres and in general. The 1998 version, meanwhile, was a shot-for-shot remake of the 1960 version, but is somehow considered vastly inferior. It’s interesting because the original film is fairly faithful to the events of the novel, and includes several lines that are exact or very nearly exact quotes from the novel (such as “We all go a little crazy/mad sometimes.”) Perhaps this question is somewhat related to McFarlane’s suggestion that there is a difference between “adaptations” and “transfer”- the 1960 film is an adaptation of the novel, and thus it is successful because it is able to freely take or leave those elements of the novel that work or do not work. The 1998 film, however, is actually a transfer of the 1960 film, and thus is not as effective because it is necessarily compared to a classic. (It’s way too much to get into right now, but perhaps this could also be tied to question 6, issues of historical/cultural contextualization- ie, 1960’s version works because of the time in which it was made, and 1998’s fails for the same reason.)

    • Interesting–I wonder if we would say the same about the remake if the original Psycho had never been made? If we never saw Hitchcock’s version and it never existed, would we have admired the “remake” as much?

  29. Jeff says:

    12. When films self-consciously raise questions about their own status as adaptation, what general implications do they offer adaptation studies?
    I looked at the Star Wars Uncut film. Star Wars was a huge blockbuster when originally released and remains so today. interestingly, the original’s biggest fans enjoy picking at the inconsistencies of the film, the dated effects, and plot holes. This adaptation of the original seems to celebrate these flaws in the original that nonetheless has serrved to endear the original to its fan. One implication of this seems to me that adaptations draws attention to the original shortcomings of an original text, and forces the audience to decide whether they can ignore them, focus their attention on them, and even enjoy them. We all agreed that Canoe Reeves was terrible doing Shakespeare even though it was line for line from the original text, but I remember most of us laughing at the performance and relishing it for it’s awfulness. So it seems to me that adaptations can not only serve as a useful tool to critique original works whether literary or film but also increase the public’s enthusiasm for the original work.

  30. Laura Callei says:

    Does the movie in question betray its literary source?

    When looking at the clips I was surprised that Drive is an adaptation piece. For me I hated the movie. I thought it was dreadful but from what I heard about the film a lot of people enjoyed the film adaptation in comparison to the text. So based on this it would seem the movie doesn’t betray the literary source however, I can’t answer the question personally because I haven’t read the text

  31. Sara Tener says:

    I watched the Be Kind Rewind Trailer and the Raiders of the Lost Ark adaptation and I feel that both lend themselves relatively well to Leitch’s Question #6. Clearly, the works produced in Be Kind Rewind and the Indiana Jones adaptation are both subject to budget constraints that are culturally and historcially based. The characters in both works are not economically privilged and their adaptations, though attempting to retain certain key scenes and elements, illustrate how laymen, in this particular position, might approach fidelity. In addition, The Raiders of the Lost Ark clip, in altering the cultural background of the protagonist, seems to eliminate certain colonial implications inherent in the original. Though the characters in the adaptation are still raiding an archaeological site, it is as natives rather than as white, alien ousiders.

  32. Marie Mosot says:

    Laymen bring up fidelity as a standard to assess adaptations and avoid questions of quality. Critics do the reverse, avoiding fidelity and concerning themselves with questions and standards of quality. As a result, laymen see adaptations as either successful or not – to them, it’s black and white. Because discussions of quality entail a greater degree of analysis, critics come up with a multitude of answers, none of which is more wrong or right than another. Laymen are satisfied with the model of adaptation as translation whereas critics want a more varied field of thought. But as Connor points out, laymen and critics exist on a continuum, which raises the possibility of an area between subjective moralizing and critical acumen.

    • Dana Choit says:

      As you note that “Connor points out, laymen and critics exist on a continuum” I think websites like Metascore, would be supported by Connor. Metascore creates a scoring system based on the critics judgement (less black and white, more dimensional) yet at the same time, a second viewer (layman) rating system/comment system is simultaneously present on screen. The two sides of the coin are in view and allow any Metascore user (whether layman, critic) to make entertainment decisions based on both.

  33. Connor seems to be suggesting that there is not so much a divide between laymen and critics, as there is a need for a divide because the question of the layman (“how faithful is the adaptation to the original?”) constantly affects the work of the critic and interferes with the latter’s ability to study the adaptation from any context other than a comparative one. While critics try to move away from the issue of fidelity, they are drawn back to it because they are without a criticism that allows them to do anything other than try to “persuade” audiences.

    • I think so too. I think that he’s saying the question of faithfulness has too much influence in the study of adaptation. But I think that he’s saying that the discussion on fidelity isn’t going away, because there is something to the simple work of comparison that laymen perform. This complicates who has authority, which for myself is a good thing. For a site like Metacritic, they’re saying that they are choosing the best critics and consolidating their judging numbers into one number, but the layman’s opinions are nice to have too. HAHA — that was so condescending. For me, there are lots of time when those critics — the authorities — are just plucking crackheads when they review a movie. But they’re “supposed” to have some authority, because they’re supposed to have the education? to fulfill their positions. They’re to be all technical, while the average view is just like, the movie is fucking awesome because of the acting, and the fight scenes, etc. The critics look for more. Have you guys read the reviews from Roger Ebert. Jesus H Christ man — he does way too much. Ahem. So I think that sites like Metacritic try to silence the conversation of judgement.

  34. trevor11 says:

    It seems that Connor is saying that laymen and critics have differing interests. The laymen seems to be only concerned or only able to discuss adaptation in terms of comparison, “but compared to the book” or “They butchered the book,” whereas the critics attempt to counteract that idea of being slave to fidelity. It also seems that each side tries to battle the other by laymen’s up-talking the discourse on fidelity if it has dissipated and critics trying to silence it and thusly vice-versa.

    • Laura Callei says:

      I think that we can see this from the critics website. The critics, to me, are trying to start a conversation and not to silence it. Many times we hear a movie is a terrible adaptation piece yet we may think differently or we may agree and this is a coversation starter. I do not think this would be an example of the ‘silencing’ Connor was discussing but the ‘slave to fidelity’ you have discussed in your analysis.

    • The Metascore site, because it considers only the opinions of highly respected critics, and because it weighs the opinions of even those critics on a scale in which the most greatly respected reviewers are given more weight than others, and finally, because it doesn’t include the opinions of “laymen”, or non-professional sources of reviews, would probably be something that Connor would see as aiding in the “silencing” of fidelity discourse by leaving out the voices of laymen (and thus probably avoiding most questions of fidelity).

    • Jeff says:

      It is interesting that most of the good reviews on the Metacritic site speak of the film being successful as a continuation of jackson’s original work and therefore praise it’s fidelity. There is an attempt to discuss films for other reasons than fidelity, however I’m fairly sure that Conner would reject the notion of giving the film a final score based on the critics responses. If Connor indeed is interested in expanding the evaulation of films beyond simple fidelity, the idea of a final score that answers whether a film is a success or not seems counter-productive to developing intelligent discourse about a film.

  35. Connor’s stance on the divide between laymen and critics involve the laymen’s constant attempts at focusing on a film adaptation’s fidelity to its source text, when there has been “decades of resourceful argument against” doing so. In other words, despite the fact that critics are working to bring other levels of evaluation into focus, their efforts are always defeated by the overwhelming power of the laymen who would much rather discuss opinions to questions with no real answers than consider a different approach to viewing film adaptations. For example, I am taking this course and learning about film adaptation, but if I went to see The Great Gatsby with most of my friends, it would be difficult to hold a discussion about anything other than how it was better or worse than the source novel. The general person does not really have any interest in what the critic has to say.

    • Marie Mosot says:

      “The general person does not really have any interest in what the critic has to say.” It’s so unfortunate that that is the case because I think the job of critics – and I don’t mean people like Ben Lyons who pander – REAL critics is to present a film in a way that challenges the viewer or wasn’t apparent to the viewer before. (I read an article, maybe years ago, in defense of film critics that says exactly this. It was well-argued. I’ll try to look for it.)

    • Kevin L. Ferguson says:

      Re. “the general person does not really have any interest in what the critic has to say”–Unfortunately, I also think that even the media outlets that employ critics (like some news programs and newspapers) also undermine them by emphasizing things like “box office” and “opening weekend grosses.” So, what a critic says isn’t as important as how much money a film makes (which is then taken to be a kind of judgment).

  36. Laura Callei says:

    Connor’s stance on layman is that in judging adaptations and when these judgments slip away critics have ‘silenced’ them. In this attempt the criticism is also freed and thus ‘offer more of itself, endlessly.’ When the conversation turns to judgement of the adaptations themselves we will no longer have the criticism and thus, we may give up.

    • I think aggregated sites such as rotten tomatoes or metacritics allows the expansion of the layman’s raising questions of fidelity. By presenting a collection of reviews and pooling a score, the websites present a spectrum to the layman and in tern the layman can create a more educated opinion based on the wide array of criticism. I’m not sure Conor would have something terribly negative to say as again I think he a threads a symbiosis between the development of the critics ideas and the layman’s ideas. Thusly, by presenting the layman with the critics ideas it creates an all new outcome. Conor’s may question the effects this has on both parties though.

  37. Is the movie as well as its source subject to cultural and historical contextualization?

    This question seems odd. But from what I’m getting both the movie and source subjects are cultural and historical contextualizations. I watched the *Psycho* trailer and there is obvious historical and cultural contextualization. The cars, clothes, speech, etc., are different. But some things were the same. The house looked the same, the bathroom, bathtub, shower curtain. The scene where the private eye goes up the stairs, then the “mother” stabs him is the same. When he firsts meets the girl who stole the cash (I forget her name), the chair is in the same position (and even looks like the same chair in the original). The lake (or large pond?) where he hides her car looks the same. These are items and places that tries to hold onto some of the original, but in general the movie looks new, different. I’m supposed to jive with it more (but I don’t), because I like the original context. It had some distance, representing a different time, with different clothes, and different, cars, etc. I like the distance.

  38. Raj says:

    Consider the problem of “laymen” that J.D. Connor raises in “The Persistence of Fidelity,” particularly in the last paragraph and in the section on authority.

    In your own words, leave a comment summarizing Connor’s stance on the divide between laymen and critics.
    I think the divide lies in the critics’ view of lay commentary as boring. For them such commentary boils down to two things: first, which is better the book or the film; and second (once that question is proven too subjective to be answered,) what are the differences between the book and film. For Connor the persistence of this question lies not so much in the thickheadedness of lay people but in something more interesting that they may not be aware of, which critics should examine. Specifically- why are certain texts, particularly primary ones (e.g. the text first encountered be it film or novel) worthy of a lay person attempting to defend it’s value over another form. What are the reasons for the lay person’s attachment to the primary text. Once that is investigated perhaps critics could explore why adaptations challenge such attachments, or are adaptations created with the intent purpose of being challenging.

  39. 2. “Questions of matching or mis-matching address the viewer’s ability to recognise the systematicity of the differences between source and adaptation; questions of judgment speak to the perceptiveness of the viewer in recognising both the systematicity of the individual works and the grounds for her own judgment”, writes Conner in the previous section. I think this was good segway to speak about the authority of the layman. Connor is saying that adaptation studies is on a continuum and it shouldn’t the opinions of scholars and people that are not scholars are valuable. “The layman” view adaptation on a very linear scale, where as scholars look for the aesthetic value. Both shouldn’t be discounted. All questions from both sides contribute to the study of adaptation.

    • Darwin Eng says:

      Connor does seem to be attempting to strike a balance, but it still seems like he is leaning more towards the critic’s than the layman’s opinions and judgements. Based on your comment, if Connor was to see Metacritic, he would have a lot of questions. The score is essentializing the opinions of “critics”. Connor would most likely question: who are these critics? Who and what decides who a critic is? Metacritic mentions that certain critics weigh more than others because they are more respected. While Connor would ask how this curve is calculated, he would most likely agree (as critics themselves would exist on a spectrum).

      But if Connor believes that there is validity to the layman’s judgement, Metacritic would not provide it, as it explicitly states that they only aggregate “critics” and not the reviews of every day people.

  40. amelia daly says:

    I thought Connor’s perspective was hilarious. He is suggesting that the reason the fidelity argument is so steadfast for the layman is because it is basically an argument that works to secure their initial judgement of the story. If a layman sees something other than their expectations gathered from their reading of a novel, then they have to admit that their view was questionable.
    Critics of course feel that this is no reason to engage the debate and so they are constantly trying to rid the study of adaptation of the fidelity debate.

    • I agree, it seems as though Conner is arguing that the laymen is tied to their reading of the source, and to avoid questioning that, they judge the adaptation based on fidelity.

      I think Conner would like Metacritic because it has two scores: the critic score and the user score. This way, neither view is silenced, but they are made separate. Of course, it’s not as though every user is going to think this way, and in the same vein, critics may also do the same thing. Still, the two scores are going to reflect that general difference between a critics approach and a laymen’s approach. This way, I’ll know when looking at an adaptation’s two scores that if the critic score is significantly higher than the user score, there is a good chance that the movie is quality, but not exactly faithful to the source.

    • Mike Ketive says:

      I agree with you. Not only do I imagine Connor reading your average message board and just sighing in complete disapproval, but I can also imagine he has mixed feelings about Metacritic. An aggregate website that encompasses the reviews of both respected critics and any fanboy with a computer (though the former carries more weight than the latter according to the links provided) is good and bad for the sake of scholarly criticism. Connor might praise the site for weighing the critics’ nuanced review heavier than the laymen’s review, which might read something like “character A didn’t die when he was supposed to: 0 stars”. On the other hand, he might argue that the laymen might dilute the score of the critics if they gather en masse on Metacritic. If we look at this like Connor would, there’s probably more bad than good about Metacritic, but the good wouldn’t go unrecognized.

    • I like Faye’s idea of “comparing” the two kinds of scores (which I do), and the implicit assumptions we make about those scores. I’d also guess that the “user score” was added to metacritic later in the game, and maybe because it’s a way to get people to visit and engage with a site (more than necessarily to actually document or collect user reviews).

  41. Mike Ketive says:

    It seems to me that Connor’s issues with laymen stem from what he might to be off-base, biased and inaccurate judgement of the fidelity, or possible lack thereof of an adaptation. This, in turn, would cause modern critics to rise up and once again quash those long-dead notions of fidelity in relation to whether or not it is imperative to judge the success of an adaptation. Connor seems to believe that it isn’t exactly, as those “laymen” who seek to call into question the fidelity of an adaption may arguably be undermining the work as a whole primarily because it’s an adaptation. Essentially “the book is better because it came before the movie” argument still seems to cause a lot of strife in a post-fidelity world of study.

    • I agree with your interpretation of Connor’s stance on the issues with laymen and their infatuation with the fidelity of a film adaptation to its source novel. A website like Metascore is only making matters worse for critics because they are basically honoring the opinion of “critics” (who are actually laymen in disguise, pretending to be critics). Metascore’s wesbite even states that they ascribe “more importance, or weight, to some critics and publications than others, based on their quality and overall stature.” What the hell does that even mean? Which critics are getting more attention? College-educated researchers in the study of film adaptation, or Joe Shmoe sitting down the block who’s seen tons of movies! Websites like Metascore are totally inaccurate.

  42. Jeff says:

    Laymen are predomianantly concerned with whether a film has been successful in preserving its fidelity to the book whereas critics would dispel the notion that fidelity is of any importance at all and would seek to evaluate an adaptation by a different system of judgemental factors. The argument ends by stating that while these two view points seem contradictory both remain essentail to the continuance of discourse about adaptation.

    • Sara Tener says:

      I do not know if Connor would place laymen and critics in the throes of fidelity reflex on the same level. The silencing effect that such critics have on debate would be a check against them. However, when purusing Metacritic, it seemed that some of the critics were not afraid to engage in fidelity discourse and that the user reviews did not engage in such. This could of course be attributed to who is selecting the material that is being posted. Nevertheless, I do not think that Connor would be a fan of a site that omitted user opinions when creating its ranking system.

  43. Conner sees the “laymen” as judging an adaptation solely on its fidelity, while critics seek to judge on grounds beyond fidelity. In the last paragraph, he says that critics go so far to the point where they silence discussion of how fidelity may relate to quality. It seems that Conner sees the laymen as having too much of an emotional attachment to the source, and don’t know how to divorce themselves from this when assessing an adaptation’s quality.

    • amelia daly says:

      I think Connor would say that those websites are diluting the discourse on adaptation. These sites give the laymen encouragement to share their judgments.
      I agree Faye that the emotional attachment laymen have to source text is a main concern for adaptation studies.

    • Mike Salerno says:

      I agree with your summary of Connor’s opinion. I also think he would appreciate a site like Metacritic in that it quantifies what has generally been a qualitative form of criticism (although sometimes there is a number rating attached). I’ve heard many people quote the metacritic score of a movie as a way of assessing its overall quality. Connor would argue that this system may eliminate the argument of fidelity in that it isn’t visible anymore, but at the same time it doesn’t say much about what makes a film have a high or low quality. For that one would still have to read the individual reviews.

    • Sara Tener says:

      I do not think that Connor had a problem with laymen attachment to original works so much as he really wished them to be more judgemental than their readings generally appeared. I was under the impression that he felt that they were objectively attempting to justify a prior evaluation of a work. The key word being objective. It is interesting to note that, in reading some of the reviews, one could not really classify the reviewers as neatly fitting into Connor’s categorizations. In this sense, perhaps he would revise portions of this piece if he had consulted these sites previously?

  44. Sara Tener says:

    Connor presents laymen as the last bastion of fidelity discourse and critics as subject to fidelity reflex (i.e. the call to end an obsession with fidelity discourse). Whereas critics aspire to silence judgement and moralizing, laymen in their discourse attempt an objective justification of a prior evaluation. Connor appears to believe that the discussions of laymen are more useful because they at least illustrate how it is possible to examine aesthetic alternatives.

    • Raj says:

      I’m not sure to what extent the purpose of ratings aggregators like Metacritic foster discussion of adaptations. I suppose in practice though, assuming that the typical movie critic uses matters of fidelity in making a judgement of the film, and a higher degree of fidelity yields a better rating/higher score, this may propel more lay people to see the film. Sara’s post mentions that “Connor appears to believe that the discussions of laymen are more useful because they at least illustrate how it is possible to examine aesthetic alternatives.” These alternatives may be voiced more so by movie critics than the public at large, and so such aggregator sites may prove useful in collecting not only ratings but various “aesthetic alternatives”– that is, each movie critic’s piece in discussing fidelity could lay out a particular view of how the film provides an alternate vison of the text. Thus as it stands, Metacritic and the like would foster the lay person’s reliance on fidelity discourse.

  45. Conor’s points are overall interetsing; however, his creation of a symbiosis between the laymen and critics is what grabs me the most. The raising of questions of fidelity that is tied to critics relinquishing of judgment is very strange in that Conor hinges the idea that once cannot exist without the other. In this sense he suggests that critics judgement in a way relies on the laymens questioning of fidelity, and vice versa. This is very strange, and I’m not entirely sure that I agree; however, Conor does seem to present enough support to the idea.

  46. Darwin Eng says:

    There is a not-so-subtle jab at the layman. Conner argues that the layman is extremely judgmental, and only judges an adaptation based on its fidelity–“Compared to the Original”. Compare this to the critics, who can look beyond judging the fidelity (though Connor never explicitly states what it is, merely that is is part of the academy). Yet by the end, Connor suggests that there is still some validity to the layman’s discourse, in which it allows for the examination of “aesthetic alternatives”.

  47. Dana Choit says:

    Conner says that the layman will judge adaptations based on the level of fidelity to the original source. The critics however, seek to stop this fidelity-based judgement, and aim to judge on other components. I would have liked to get a more clear description, on what could possibility develop for the critics judgements once the layman’s fidelity system has dissipated.

  48. trevor11 says:

    I believe that connor would find the aggregating websites to be less helpful in the way of furthering fidelity discourse and more about silencing that line of judgement as being a move review junkie I find that often times the critics find other points about the movie to critique it on. For example, in looking at a review of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, I search the words better, compared to and book in the review and then lastly novel. None of these words were used more than once if used at all or used in any fashion that would imply a nod at fidelity discourse. The reviewers pointed out and critiqued the merits and detriments of a the film which is based on a novel rather than holding it up to its source mirror and saying “it looks nothing like it.”

  49. Marie Mosot says:

    Here’s my problem with Metacritic: while the metascore is a weighted average of published reviews by “respected” critics, there is no control for those critics themselves. That is, the standard for respectability among film critics is not universal or at least not explained by the people behind Metacritic. Therefore, Metacritic falls somewhere between laymen’s continuing fidelity questions and critics’ silencing the judgment. Many film critics could be described as laymen both in their judgments and writing style, yet because they are paid critics, they are beholden to a certain journalistic standard that users are not. This could read as an extension of what Jeff brought up about needing both laymen and critics in the discussion.

    “Laymen are predomianantly concerned with whether a film has been successful in preserving its fidelity to the book whereas critics would dispel the notion that fidelity is of any importance at all and would seek to evaluate an adaptation by a different system of judgemental factors. The argument ends by stating that while these two view points seem contradictory both remain essentail to the continuance of discourse about adaptation.”

    Though Metacritic seems to value the critic over the laymen, many critics write as laymen, and as a result, “different systems of judgment” converge – laymen and critic are equal (as far as Metacritic is concerned).

    • Marie Mosot says:

      Oh woops, just realized this was supposed to be a reply, not a comment – my bad. This is what happens when you read too fast to keep up :D

    • And, like anyone being paid to do a job, critics have a responsibility to their employer, which might mean representing a particularly consistent point of view or to try to capture a certain kind of audience (or, maybe even simply to do something to sell more copies).

  50. Raj says:

    I’m not sure to what extent the purpose of ratings aggregators like Metacritic foster discussion of adaptations. I suppose in practice though, assuming that the typical movie critic uses matters of fidelity in making a judgement of the film, and a higher degree of fidelity yields a better rating/higher score, this may propel more lay people to see the film. Sara’s post mentions that “Connor appears to believe that the discussions of laymen are more useful because they at least illustrate how it is possible to examine aesthetic alternatives.” These alternatives may be voiced more so by movie critics than the public at large, and so such aggregator sites may prove useful in collecting not only ratings but various “aesthetic alternatives”– that is, each movie critic’s piece in discussing fidelity could lay out a particular view of how the film provides an alternate vison of the text. Thus as it stands, Metacritic and the like would foster the lay person’s reliance on fidelity discourse.

  51. Like totally, man. The critics say that laymen talk about what is more faithful to the original; this is an evaluative argument. It goes no where. But the question of faithfulness — of matching — is easier than examining technical aspects or comparing two different pieces of art. But layman comparison are the first step in considering a text. Everyone hates fidelity, but it’s still around. There must be something happening there. I think, maybe, he’s saying that fidelity is worth looking at.

  52. Hey aren’t we supposed to be replying to part 2 rather than posting a new blog?

  53. Laura Callei says:

    How did early film theorists define cinema as an art distinct from other arts?

    Hutcheon argues that literature is a one-stage art and that several major consequences occur because of this. Linda says that the art is a new creation of the old art by the new art. We can see this in the development of our critics over the course of the semester. Their texts seem to follow similar ideologies of the original. Hutcheon later argues oh wait, what if it could be a two-form art? what if we are able to accept that other artists, critics, ect. are needed to bring this to life? Clearly, Linda is stating that cinema is a distinct art when this concept of two-form art is brought up.

  54. Why did the early film industry see literature as the “obvious” source for films?

    Hutcheon opens her essay by stating the survival principle inherent in several different schools of thought, adaptation. She states (much more elegantly) that you either adapt or you don’t with that I think its easy to say that film adapted to take on literature to survive. Film was a new medium, whereas literature had a built audience, both commercially and scholastically. So for film to gain substance and legitimacy it took to adapting stories which were already known. Under this light one can see that the early film industry saw literature as means for their own ends. Instead of producing original works, which would be deemed as illegitimate forms of storytelling, as film was then seen as an illegitimate medium, early filmmakers took to literature to propel their medium to new heights. They adapted their art to survive. Hutcheon supports this way of viewing early filmmakers borrowing of literature in her opening statement.

  55. Mike Ketive says:

    ~ What features are pointed to when calling adaptations “successful” or “unsuccessful”?

    I would ultimately say the “success” or “failure” of an adaption is how well it balances itself on the fine line between veering too far off from the source material or blatantly ripping off of the source material. If it goes too much into one direction or the other, “laymen” would deem it a failure. I find this to be quite interesting because Linda Hutcheon asserts that as readers (or viewers in the case of films), we have a sense of “empowerment”, where the consumer of an adaptation can voluntarily choose whether an adaptation is “successful” or “unsuccessful”. In paragraph 4, Hutcheon alludes to how the production of literature and the reading of literature are not at all mutually exclusive, as one is affected by the other quite a bit. It can be argued, continuing from her Lord of The Rings example, that because “readers” deemed the adaptation a success, that means the future “production” of The Hobbit, one book, is being made into three movies over the course of the next three years. Conversely, were The Lord of The Rings considered absolute garbage, then no-one would even think twice about making The Hobbit into a movie. So in essence, Hutcheon’s argument can be used to look at how consumerism wins out and now, we have to spend three times as much to criticize little bits of one book. Hooray! All cynicism aside, the readership of a text and the production of it are directly linked to whether or not the adaptation of it will be considered a “success” or a “failure”.

  56. Dana Choit says:

    Why and how has the contemporary American film industry encouraged transgenre adaptation, tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels, appropriations, etc?

    Hutcheon states that :literary adaptions are there own things- inspired by, based on an adapted text but something different, something other”. I think this notion can also apply to the “transgenre adaptations,tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels”. Each new adaptation that is created, be it a sequel, a reboot, or even a video game can be viewed as a separate text. Each text, is indeed, “inspired by, based on” etc., etc., but has its own unique qualities. Each text may present a different idea, and allow for the audience to experience something new. For example, a video game, might be “inspired by” a film, but provides a “world” that expands on the one previously explored in the film.

    • Dana Choit says:

      The adapted text (whatever that may be) can also become “a part of our readerly experience of [the original text]” as we return back to it.

      ah, one last sentence got cut off

    • Dana Choit says:

      I realized I forgot to address the “why” part of the question. This I think is a bit more simple. The film industry as well as the gaming industry (and any other form of adaptation that is out there- industry, I guess products) will heavily benefit from the demand that is produced by the audience. If a film creates excitement, and therefore demand, the supply of various products will be popping up everywhere. Adaptions of many forms will be created as a result, to “cash in” on the demand. However, I do think that Hutcheon’s quote above on “the other” that is created also further adds to the demand. When the audience gains a new form of adaptation, and it is in this “other” category, its allows for expansion on what was originally put forth, this adds fuel to the fire for more and more adaptions and additions.

  57. Marie Mosot says:

    Why and how has the contemporary American film industry encouraged transgenre adaptation, tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels, appropriations, etc?

    Reboots, remakes, sequels – all present familiar art in unfamiliar ways. This is at the heart of adaptation, both broadly defined and in terms of films based on literary texts. Technology has allowed a proliferation and democratization of creation, and as a result, content is no longer beholden to its given forms. A piece of art’s success depends less on established standards and more on its ability to reproduce across various media. Hutcheon’s final paragraph is a ringing defense of such a view, of adaptation as evolution. Quoting Julie Sanders: “Adaptation and appropriation… are, endlessly and wonderfully, about seeing things come back to us in as many forms as possible.” Hutcheon then continues, “The storytelling imagination is an adaptive mechanism – whether manifesting itself in print or on stage or on screen. The study of the production of literature should, I would like to argue, include those other forms taken by that storytelling drive.” Ostensibly, the film industry profits immensely from such intermedia art – copyright issues and whatnot – but I think we consumers profit even more. It allows us to engage with a certain text in more than one prescribed way. It forces us to constantly reassess our relationship with a given text, whether it be a novel or film or otherwise, thereby keeping it alive. No text is lost and forgotten if there is but one fool to adapt it :D

  58. Darwin Eng says:

    “Why and how has the contemporary American film industry encouraged transgenre adaptation, tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels, appropriations, etc?”

    Hutcheon first discusses the originality and privilege of literature. He brings up the ideas of literature either being a one-stage or two-stage. In the case of the contemporary American film industry, they clearly believe that literature is at least two-stage (and in some cases, even more when there exists an adaptation of an adaptation). Hutcheon eventually goes on to suggest the reasons behind the insistence of constantly making adaptations, remakes, etc. It is to appeal to the globalized audience. There is a “need and desire to appeal to the global market”, and therefore, make money. And it becomes effective because an adaptation allows for the film industry to cater to specific markets. If we take the video “Kart” as an example, the original game may only appeal to a specific audience–namely young children and/or casual gamers. Yet, the an adaptaton like “Kart” can theoretically appeal to a completely different audience by spinning the game into an action movie, or a romance. Ultimately, Hutcheon is suggesting that the reasons for adaptations is almost purely capitalistic.

    As for how the film industry has encouraged adaptations, Hutcheon notes that it involves taking popular, existing works and changing them to target a specified audience (something that I have mentioned above). Additionally, it becomes a cycle in which the same source is adapted multiple times, causing viewers to want to see each and every adaptation in order to judge its fidelity. And the money gained from this fuels the industry to make more adaptations.

  59. What features are pointed to when calling adaptations “successful” or “unsuccessful”?

    One of the biggest features pointed to when calling adaptations successful or unsuccessful is fidelity. Many movie-goers constantly bring up the differences they spot between a source text and its film adaptation. Hutcheon, however, brings specific attention to some of these differences, explaining that they are very purposely created in order to reach a larger audience.
    Hutcheon mentions that most adaptations work to reach the global market she refers to when exploring how thoroughly literature is adapted. She states that “the need or desire to appeal to a global market has consequences for adaptations of literature.” These consequences are directly related to the features which people focus on when deciding if an adaptation is successful or unsuccessful. For example, Hutcheon discusses how some adaptations change specific plot points, characters, setting details, etc., in order to relate to the new audience for which the adaptation is being marketed. In other words, a Japanese adaptation of an American novel might purposely alter some ‘cultural’ ideas for the sake of relating more to a Japanese audience. Another highly regarded feature of film adaptation is the director’s vision, which usually comes up when movie-goers question if the director successfully captured their own version of any intended character. Hutcheon responds to this by dismissing its importance, claiming that when she watches an actor or actress portraying a character’s silent thought process: “I’ve read the book. I fill in the blank, so to speak.” In other words, whether the director was successful or unsuccessful in casting roles, Hutcheon is still able to interact with the characters by acknowledging what they are truly supposed to be thinking and feeling. If you believe that, the success of the film adaptation is then up to the movie-goer.

  60. Why and how has the contemporary American film industry encouraged transgenre adaptation, tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels, appropriations, etc?

    Hutchens defends adaptation as a sort of a “survival of the fittest” situation- it is successful, even pervasive within our culture because we actively enjoy “‘seeing things come back to us in as many forms as possible'” (Hutchens quoting Sanders). She points to the idea that literature develops from other literature but seems to suggest that these days, readers of literature are so affected by and immersed in adaptation that it has, in turn, affected the “production of literature”, too (that is, literature no longer “only derive[s] its form from itself” as she quotes Northop Frye as saying).

    Therefore, to answer question five, the American film industry has encouraged various forms of adaptation and appropriation because it is one of the most practical ways to create a film. Adaptation has survived and thrived because it is (biologically, as Hutchens would say) viable. It does so, as Hutchens points out in her paragraph on the many new incarnations of Beowulf that emerged in the space of a year, by allowing the same characters, myths, legends and storylines pop up time and time again (because they are warmly received each time they reappear).

  61. I love the online format because it gives me time to really think my response through before I post it. Also, I love that I have room at my table to display both of the class readings, my laptop, and a cup of coffee without feeling cramped in that terrible classroom!

  62. How do theories of “how fiction works” relate to the cinema, and where do they fall short?

    Fiction relates to cinema in regards to narrative structure, story, plot, motif – things like that. Theories about the specifically literary devices fall short when analyzing film because they just don’t carry over. Hutcheon illustrates this in paragraph 15, where she talks about filling in the blanks of a scene from what she read in the story. Theories of how fiction works would undoubtedly touch upon the internal dialogue that is easy to convey in a book, but not as easy to convey in a film. With the exception of voice-over, a film can only convey the emotion of text, and no matter how nuanced, it will never be as specific or unequivocal as the actual words. To analyze how a film conveys internal dialogue and narrative, you would need to study the specific language of film. Theorizing about how fiction does it does not translate to the world of film.

  63. Mike Ketive says:

    I missed out the last time we did this due to personal stuff, but I found this online class format to be considerably thought provoking, well structured and overall, quite interesting.

  64. Personally, I love this way of doing class. It’s really engaging, and I’m sure no one minds the ability to multitask. ;)

  65. Raj says:

    Why did the early film industry see literature as the “obvious” source for films?

    Literature was initially (and based on the number of adaptations today, is currently) the obvious source for films because of the ease by which a novel’s audience could be moved to a film’s. On one hand, as Connor points out, the typical middle class audience enjoys drawing comparisons between what they’ve read and what someone else portrays on screen. On the other, as Ray points out, the market realities behind making a film (the costs involved) demand that a return of capital plus (ideally) profit be made. So in a film adaptation of a novel there is a pre-existing audience. Additionally a middle class audience is already comfortable with a particular narrative structure as entertainment- that of a fictional story with a certain dramatic arc, and filmmakers were keen to capitalize on that rather than pursue new/radical modes of filmmaking. Hutcheon may not necessarily argue with this general notion of why novels were adapted to films, but would take pause at the question’s use of “sourced.” She argues in her essay that for a reader/viewer films are only sourced (they’re only considered the original) if the novel was encountered first. So yes a reader might bring to a film her/his own view of things, or interpretation of silences/parts that were not obviously narrated. But on the other hand she points out that a viewer who goes on to read the novel would bring to it the images portrayed by the film’s director. Her notion of the intertextuality of adaptations is strong enough a factor to make the early concerns over which text was source from which a moot point.

  66. I like this way of class as it is definitely a little more hands on, and a little more free roam.

  67. The online format is great, Prof! I feel like I’m getting a lot out of the readings this way, and it’s nice to have every student respond to every question (whereas in class, sometimes only a handful of people are able to/want to contribute because of time issues or the way the conversation winds up being steered, etc.). (PS, it’s nice for us, anyway. I’m not sure how much fun it is for you to read 100 comments in a row!)

  68. amelia daly says:

    How do theories of “how fiction works” relate to the cinema, and where do they fall short?

    One of the ways in which “how fiction works” can relate to cinema is in the theory that “all art is bred of other art.” (1)
    Originality is not a point of contention for literature and many apply it to cinema. However, there still is a double standard when it comes to adaptation because of problems with “ownership,” and “authority.” Also, Hutcheon discusses how there are misconceptions of originality in literature in paragraph 6, calling it an “illusion.”She also discusses how there are teams of people who influence the end result novel much in the same way that other artworks are productions.
    This also falls short, she says, because adaptations are seen as “a step downward” and this ultimately leads into the vast stew of negative infidelity discourse.

  69. Raj says:

    The online format is the greatest thing ever. One can read, write, learn, watch a bit of TDKR, get good coffee, entertain the dog, avoid going outside/crowds of people, and a host of many other positive things. Oh and my office chair is a great deal more comfortable than the torture devices we’re provided with at the school. On the downside, the neighborhood children are home and for some reason they are the sort to play (loudly) outside rather than indoors on their ps3’s/xbox’s/etc.

  70. Sara Tener says:

    Why and how has the contemporary American film industry encouraged transgenre adaptation, tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels, appropriations, etc?

    Hutcheon’s piece focuses on reader-response theory. She points out how neither a text nor an adaptation is necessarily primary because they exist on a continuum- depending on which readers/ audiences experienced first. In this vein, she argues that both should be considered part of the same experience: reading informs our viewing, and viewing informs our reading. This article, in effect, helps to displace or blur the concept of the original and the author. Contemporary American film appears to operate under some of the aforementioned views. For one, reader-response is very much alive in the form of target audience market studies of transgenre adaptations, remakes and reboots. One could also argue that those who create transgenre adaptations are operating under the notion that the more a viewer is exposed to “the same” story, characters, etc., the more developed their appreciation and understanding of such will become.

  71. Marie Mosot says:

    I think this online blog format works, however harried it becomes to submit before the next task, but I might prefer a chatroom setting where I can respond to my classmates in real time. (I did an online class chatroom once as an undergrad at my college. It leaves you a little more breathless by the end of it – with everyone “talking” at the same time, keeping up is more difficult – but the interactivity was nice.) It’s easy for comments to get lost in this timed tumble: I’m too focused on finishing the task at hand to go back and read my classmates’ comments within the class time period. At least with a chatroom, everyone has a chance to be read and responded to, what with all messages appearing in real time and in the same general space by the dialogue box, and the professor can guide discussion like in a classroom. Just a suggestion, something to look into :)

    • Yes–I can see the pros and cons of a chatroom (if the class is big, lots of talking at once; but on the other hand increased communication instead of mini-essays).
      This software doesn’t have a chat feature–the best we can do is “threaded replies.” But maybe a google chat or twitter feed would supplement well…

  72. trevor11 says:

    Why and how has the contemporary American film industry encouraged transgenre adaptation, tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels, appropriations, etc?

    The why is simple exposure and distribution but the how is money. Hutcheon argues that “adaptations across media are inevitably fraught, and for complex and multiple reasons. The financing and distribution issues of these widely different media alone inevitably challenge older capitalist models. The need or desire to appeal to a global market has consequences for adaptations of literature…” In the zeal for exposure and to appeal to the great masses, the film industry encourages the transgenre of adaptations so that they can reach the widest possible audience. With video games, amusement parks and other forms people choose what vehicle they would like their story to be in. When adapting a text to audiences the film industry makes sure to reach all possible viewers (both the familiar and the strangers to the text).

  73. amelia daly says:

    I like the intensity of this format. I agree with others that it is thought provoking. It def feels like an exercise!!! I think it is fun too and great way to get several more insights since everyone participates. It is nice to see the same questions answered in various ways.

  74. Darwin Eng says:

    I really enjoy having this online format. It allows me to rant in my writing–I do not try to filter myself as much as I would. And because each of the assignments are well spaced out, it gives me an opportunity to try to collect at least some of my thoughts before I being to type it out. My only complaint is sometimes there is a lot of overlap. You start typing you ideas, and when you finally post, boom! Someone has said the exact same thing before you. This is not too bad of a problem, but it would be cool if the blog almost worked like text messaging, in which there are short spurts. Having an instant blogging might allow for more collaboration and discussion between people.

  75. trevor11 says:

    Format is cool, get to chill at home and still learn and truthfully feel engage and accountable. I like it.

  76. Sara Tener says:

    I think that the online format worked out a little bit better the last time, but overall, I would say it was generally successful and well-received by the class.

    • Last time I think we were able to apply a theory (the new stuff on the elements of film), which gave the class a little more variety. Also, I much prefer being able to comment and read “live” with the rest of you all!

  77. Jeff says:

    Why did the early film industry see literature as the “obvious” source for films?

    With the notion of intertextuality empowering readers, and viewers, the film industry naturally sees literature as a source for films because directors wish to superimpose their ideas onto texts and thereby enhance the overall understanding of the text. Hutcheon claims that these adapted texts are now a part of the readerly experience of literature and therefore deserve the same attention and respect as the original text itself. She further explains that depending on the order that the reader/viewer encounters the film and/or book determines for each reader which is understood to be the secondary text. Literature is not a dead thing but alive in every interraction with a new reader and therefore open to multiple opportunities for adaptation. Rather than fearing that adaptations will surplant original texts, it should be understood that adaptation, which has been practiced throughout the ages, even before literature existed, serves to add to the continium of ideas and keeps them fresh, alive, and relevant to each age that encounters them. If literature is to adapt itself to our modern age with its new technology, it must be open to the process of adaptation from other media. Hence film makers naturally look to literature as a source for film adaptation.

  78. Dana Choit says:

    I like the online format. Everyone in class is forced to think about the topics at hand in order to complete each task and also must participate in discussion. The best part is I can sit at home in my pajamas! I do agree that the timing of each component does put some pressure on you, and maybe takes away from the interaction between everyone a bit. Since you tell us to comment on others posts though it gets some of that discussion going. The online format also makes the time fly by really quickly. Overall, I enjoyed it.

  79. Jeff says:

    As I stated after the last online class, I think the online class is an interesting and engaging format. I enjoy the scheduled tasks as they build upon each other and there is an underlying sense of urgency to keep up with each task as I know the next one is coming quickly. I would not want to entirely do away with meeting in person as our lively in person conversations have definately helped me to better understand the material and I enjoy imagining the people I have come to know better from class as I read their posted comments, but certainly the online forum is a fun and interesting change of pace (especially as it is very cold outside this evening).

  80. Why did the early film industry see literature as the “obvious” source for films?

    – Like OMG. Literature is seen as the so-called obvious source for films because it already has a ready-made narrative. But there is also the hierarchy of art, which see literature at the top. Instead using an intertextual analysis of all art, showing an understanding that texts are built on each. From Connor, we see that fidelity like this hierarchy, because of the simple question is the movie better than the book? And the answer: the book.

  81. I didn’t like the web-classes. I like hearing what people have to say than reading what they have to say. In class, when I say something that’s off or wrong, Prof. Ferguson is there to correct me. But on the blog, I’m a little lost. I don’t get the correction. If there is a correction, I have to read through lots of posts to get it.

    In short, I don’t feel like I’m learning.

  82. Mike Salerno says:

    The web classes are fun although I find it difficult to keep up with the assignments as I’m reading all the responses. In addition, it’s a toss up as to whether or not I’ll receive feedback on my posts.

    Overall, I enjoy the setup though and would like to do it again in the future.

    • The hardest part for me is the timing . . . I don’t want people to feel “bored” (like, taking 20 minutes to do something that takes 10), but I don’t want people to feel unsatisfied if we go too fast . . .

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