“ gaining ” new insight H u m a n i t i e s

“ gaining ” new insight H u m a n i t i e s

About Adaptation

The Chicago School of Media Theory draws from Linda Hutcheon to argue that, “A text can not only survive the shift from one form to another, but it can also thrive in ways not previously possible in the original form.”  This characterization shows the great potential we have when we attempt to adapt a text into another form.

Create either a film adaptation, photo essay, storyboard or comic adaptation of a short story or a book chapter we have read this semester. Aim to create a visual and/or auditory experience of the text that embodies some of the principles of adaptation described by the Chicago School of Media Theory reading. Here are some moments from that essay that conceptualize the issue of adaptation to help you formulate yours:

  • “On a basic level, [adaptation] is concerned with the ‘transport of form and/or content from a source to a result in a media context.’”
  • Adaptation should not be “branded in derogatory terms implying sacrilege, theft, impurity, dilution, and failure to preserve the integrity of the source.”
  • Adaptation is “the process through which the entity or product was created (including reinterpretation and re-creation of the source).
  • “Like the biological organism that thrives in its new environment, successful adaptations change over time [consider the example of Star Trek], adapting to new conditions, migrating to new areas, and ultimately, doing their best to perpetuate their existence. The test of a good adaptation is one which achieves repetition without replication, – rather than being a mere a copy … the adaptation both evokes and is amplified by a user’s experience of the original, while also taking on distinct qualities of its own. A successful adaptation balances “the comfort of ritual and recognition with the delight of surprise and novelty, not only carrying the aura (Links to an external site.) with it, but contributing to its continual expansion.”
  • Adaptations are also often “judged on the misunderstood assumption that the goal of the adaptation was simply one of replication, rather than other motivations such as interrogation, reinvention, or exploration.”
  • Adaptation “concentrate[s] less on what has been lost by a text during the process of adaptation, and more on what the text has gained by taking on a new form or variation.”

Create Your Own Adaptation

Imagine that you are the director (or visual artist) and use visual (and, if relevant, auditory) techniques to contribute to the “expansion” of the text; you will be reinterpreting and recreating the source as you make meaning, expanding and interrogating the original to fit your purpose. The original will be “gaining” new insight from you rather than losing its original form.

You should think about the lighting, angles and shots that you can use to help convey your vision for the scene. You’ll also want to make decisions about what to include or exclude in the original to make your points. You’ll want to think about what tone you want to evoke, whether it is an era of mystery (classic, golden, hardboiled, etc.), or comedy (like an SNL skit) or change the genre entirely (sci-fi, western, romance, superhero comic book genre). The goal of this assignment is to begin with the “aura” of the original verbal text, and then portray it in a unique way representative of your own vision.

Compose a Reflection

Draft a reflection wherein you explain what you attempted to accomplish through your adaptation and assess how well you think you have succeeded. Your reflection should make specific reference to both The Chicago School of Media Theory reading on adaptation AND filmmaking concepts (from readings or videos) we have explored during the course.

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