So last month I got to present a paper at the national conference for the Pop Culture Association / American Culture Association (the PCA/ACA). The conference was huge and they had a bunch of panels on adaptation. My paper was part of a panel (along with 3 other great speakers) on "Transmedia Adaptation." Here's the proposal I wrote last fall:
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“Novel” Media: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Horizontal Adaptation
This paper explores the definition of adaptation as a horizontal, formal move by looking at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This Emmy-award winning, transmedia retelling of Pride and Prejudice set as a vlog in modern day California—told in “real-time” across platforms including YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr—provokes questions about our framework for adaptation.
Until now, most adaptation theory has been defined in the vertical terms of “layering texts” or of “palimpsest.” While the vertical is significant, this paper argues for a definition of adaptation that include the horizontal dimension, that of narrative’s historical continuum. Bolter and Grusin refer to new media as “refashioned…versions of other media” (Remediation 14). For new media adaptations, they refashion, thereby reclaiming the novels that inspired them. They repurpose the novel forms of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as fictional autobiographies and epistolary or serialized novels. This allows us to re-experience both the plot and what was once an emerging, “novel” media.
Just as Austen’s novel was not only arguing for proto-feminism and against classism but also for the very form of the novel, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is not merely making claims about female friendships or stereotyping but that adaptation through transmedia is a valid form, participating in what John Fiske refers to as “culture making” and Robert Stam calls an “ongoing dialogical process.” As a new avenue for adaptation opens, it sheds light on the horizontal facet of adaptation.
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The panel was well-attended by 20 or so people [including my younger brother :] and I made a couple of useful great connections with people already in the field. Even more exciting to me is that many people said "I'm new to adaptation, but I'm beginning to see it connecting with ________ [this thing they were already doing]." And that makes me so exciting because I think we are seeing adaptation of one sort or another everywhere right now! It's so great to watch the field expanding and to feel like a small part of it!
In other news, my thesis is written! The intro, 2 chapters, and conclusion have been drafted, revised, and re-revised. Due to some bureaucracy I'm still waiting on a thesis defense date, but I have this 70-page document and I'm amazed it's even done! Thanks for all the encouragement, friends--8 more weeks!