Considering Adaptation Theories in the Globalized 21st Century

This post is based on a paper I wrote for Dr. Blair Davis‘ class on Adaptation during the Spring 2014 quarter at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. The purpose of this assignment is to “critically analyze in essay form the work of several adaptation theorists, in order to demonstrate [an] understanding of the phenomenon of adaptation as well as the evolving theoretical tradition surrounding it.” Therefore, I applied the work of three adaptation theorists to the phenomenon of cross-cultural adaptation, which is becoming increasingly common in the globalized world of the 21st century. I welcome any and all feedback, so please feel free to join the conversation on adaptation by leaving a comment in the comments section. Thank you.

Fidelity and Cultural Codes in Cross-Cultural Adaptations: The Consideration of Adaptation Theories in the Globalized 21st Century

This paper considers how various adaptation theories regarding cross-media adaptations can and should be applied to the study of cross-cultural adaptations, particularly when considering the increasingly globalized and mediated world of the 21st century. I contend that cross-cultural adaptations often negotiate many of the same tensions experienced in arguments surrounding the fidelity of an adaptation to the source material, both in adapting a property or story from one medium to another, as well as adapting it from one culture to another. This idea becomes important when considering that globalization has had a profound impact upon the very idea of adaptation, due to an increasing number of cross-cultural adaptations and/or translations which prove that the practice of adapting a property from one culture to another is now the norm rather than the exception, and has been a factor in cross-media adaptations for some time.1 Thus, it is important to understand how current adaptation theories apply to adaptations across cultures as well as across various media. Therefore, in this paper, I draw upon Thomas Leitch’s notion of fidelity in the context of literary adaptation, Guerric Debona’s argument regarding the cultural politics of film adaptation, and Timothy Corrigan’s discussion of the value of art in the relationship of an original to its adaptation, and I apply these arguments to the idea of cross-cultural adaptations in a global context.2

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