Rethinking Adaptation in the Age of Media Convergence

Activity: Talk or presentationSeminar


Pump Up the Volume: Adaptation and the Limits of Neo-Victorianism The last ten years have seen considerable growth in the theorisation and practice of adaptation studies in universities, and concurrently the development of the field of neo-Victorian studies, as neo-Victorian novels have become a recognisable and lucrative genre and have been adapted for film and television. At the same time, television, particularly series from the United States such as The Wire and Breaking Bad, has pushed at the limits of the kinds of stories that can be told and at the limits of long-form storytelling (the trend has been called, in a recent UCL seminar series, 'Complex TV'). Lastly, in the last five years the Sherlock Holmes adaptation industry has gathered another head of steam, with the production of three distinctive interpretations of Conan Doyle's characters in film, U.S. television and on the BBC (alongside innumerable textual pastiches, from Anthony Horowitz's official novel(s) to the many shades of fan fiction). In this paper, I want to draw these four trends together - the rise of adaptation studies and of neo-Victorianism, 'complex TV', and Sherlock Holmes's renaissance - to ask what this means for our ability to describe and analyse what is going on in the culture of popular television. Is 'complex TV' an extraordinary innovation, or an extension of innately conservative formats, to which fan-fiction's morphing of characters, genres and franchises forms an irrepressible counterpart? Is neo-Victorianism a sustainable category when describing, say, the modernisation of Holmes in Sherlock, Elementary and House? And to what extent is 'complex TV' merely borrowing back - re-adapting, but with added branding - the stories and characters that have always been central to TV drama, as in the examples of the Jekyll and Hyde appropriations in Breaking Bad, Dexter and Do No Harm?
Period9 Nov 2013
Event titleRethinking Adaptation in the Age of Media Convergence
Event typeConference
LocationFreiburg, GermanyShow on map