Studies in French and Francophone Culture
Neil Archer and Andreea Weisl-Shaw - Introduction: Theorizing Adaptation 1
Neil Archer and Andreea Weisl-Shaw Introduction: Theorizing Adaptation To engage in any study of adaptation is to confront the often conf lict- ing discourses that coalesce around the term across dif ferent contexts. If adaptation is regarded within scientific discourse as inherent and natural to all living beings, within the field of cultural production it is more likely to be seen as one artistic option amongst others. To ask within a scientific context why we should adapt would invite derision: we adapt because that is how we survive, exercise our curiosity, improve our skills and develop a sense of the world. Yet to ask the question in a literary or visual-cultural context, which this introduction is presently attempting, is to risk another kind of answer: one which might emphasize the derivative and second- hand aspect of adapted texts; their potential acquiescence to the safe, the tested or commercially viable option (in the form, say, of cinematic literary adaptation), and therefore a repudiation of those qualities – originality, creativity, spontaneity – often held to be essential values of any artist and artwork. This is a view questioned by the essays presented in this volume. These essays suggest, rather, that adaptation in its various cultural modes be seen on a level with its scientific sense. In conjunction with a number of other recent works devoted to adaptation as an artistic practice,1 we would like to suggest an approach to adaptation which emphasizes those same quali- ties – of originality, creativity and spontaneity – which might...
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