Monday, November 24, 2014

Adaptations of Shakespeare: Fischlin and Fortier

·      Daniel Fischlin: associate professor of Literature and Performance Studies in English at University of Guelph (Canada)
·      Mark Fortier: Associate professor in English at University of Winnipeg (Canada)
·      This article is the general introduction to the book “Adaptations of Shakespeare: An Anthology of Plays from the Seventeenth Century to the Present” by Daniel Fischlin and Mark Fortier

Key Points
Different types of Shakespeare reworkings
·      Offshoot: something that “grows from Shakespearean stem” pg. 3
·      Reduction/Emendation: lines are cut and words altered
·      Adaptation: plays that have substantial cuts and additions

Contexts of an Adaptation
·      Adaptations engage with world around them
o   Specifically political situations
·      “The task of a careful reader is to see exactly how an adaptation functions in any particular situation and what effects it has or may have on the literary politics of author and canon as well as on larger social and political questions” pg. 7
o   Basically, context is really important to understanding adaptations

Intertextuality in Adaptations
·      Shakespeare had his own source texts
o   Common practice back in 1600s to learn to write by imitating other writers
·      Sources are necessary for adaptation – but there are varying degrees of involvement
o   Range from influencing the author’s text to being directly quoted within the text
o   Ex: Shakespeare
·      Copyright issues: Shakespeare has no legal copyright rights – just a moral code
o   But authors who use his texts to write their own can copyright – is this right?
o   Originality is highly valued in society – but was Shakespeare all that original?
·      For theatrical adaptations, intertextuality is more than just words.
o   The way people move, speak, dress, etc. – the culture – also plays a part

Theatrical Adaptations
·      Putting a written play on in a theatre requires adaptation of some sort – not all stage directions are spelled out
·      Generic mixing occurs frequently (2 genres mix on stage)
o   Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet is comedic mixed with romantic
o   Common generic mixing in theatrical adaptation: creation and criticism

Global Shakespeares
·      Shakespeare’s plays are regarded as a large part of British national identity
o   BUT they have been so widely adapted to other cultures that this association is becoming less and less
·      His works can lend themselves to other nations and cultures to find national identity/unity
o   Because the original Shakespeare plays do not have explicit political messages
o   Think political Hamlet adaptations that we read in class (Al-Hamlet Summit, Russian Hamlet, etc.)
o   However, Understanding Shakespeare can be difficult for some cultures
§  Ex: explaining Hamlet to tribe in Africa (Think 1st article we read in class)
§  Can be difficult even for our culture because of differing values
·      i.e. A Midsummer Night’s Dream law about a daughter being put to death for refusal to marry a man seems exceedingly harsh and takes away from comedic aspect of the play
o   In Shakespeare’s time, this was rarely put into effect
·      Cultural Messages in Shakespeare
o   Original Shakespeare plays have commentary about colonization and cultural differences (i.e. Othello, Tempest) that playwrights can draw upon to expose the issues (i.e. Harlem Duet, Une Tempete)

Julie Sanders - What is Adaptation?

  • Texts feed off and create other texts
    • The creation of literature is self-perpetuating
    • Texts are built from both the conventions established by previous works in their eras and by the conventions of their medium.  
  • The more one reads, the more parallels and intertexts they will be able to bring to a text
    • It is personal - everyone sees a text in a different light and brings their own views/intertexts
  • The late twentieth century has brought into question the importance of being ‘original’
    • Edward Said believes recently we have been more focused on ‘rewriting’ instead of creating new, original works
    • T.S. Eliot questioned why originality  was valued over repetition
      • He felt that no work held any meaning alone and that new material relies on past literature (like a foundation one builds off of)
  • Yet ‘rewriting’ is more than just imitation
    • Rewriting is adaptation and response to a text
  • Roland Barthes believed ‘any text is an intertext’ suggesting that the works of previous and surrounding cultures is always present in literature
  • Julia Kristeva created the term intertexualité to describe the process by which a text is a ‘permutation of texts’
  • Today we think of intertextuality as how texts encompass and respond to other texts
  • The vocabulary of describing adaptations has been changing recently
    • There has been a movement to increase ways in which adaptations use intertexts
    • Do they borrow, steal, mimic, pay homage to,echo, etc. the original text?
  • It is important to distinguish between direct quotation and acts of citation
    • Quotation depends on the context in which the quotation takes place
    • Citation is usually self-authenticating and/or reverential to its reference
  • A good adaptive text should be able to stand alone, but the awareness of its intertext enriches a reader’s understanding
  • Adaptation not only requires, but perpetuates the existence of, the text adapted
    • Adaptation also transcends imitation - it adds,supplements, and expands on the original
  • Adaptation is also not linear, in which the appropriation is secondary to the original
    • It is tangled and a blending (“grafting”)
  • Why do we even create adaptations?
    • It’s fun!
    • Audiences enjoy seeing a blend of old and new, similarity and difference
    • Readers also may feel rewarded to be able to identify intertexts

Vocabulary and Definitions
  • Hypotext - an earlier text that is imitated or transformed
  • Hypertext - any text that grafts itself onto a hypotext (what is created)
  • Bricolage
    • In literature it is any text that assembles a range or quotations, allusions, and citations from existing works of art
    • Like a literary collage
  • Pastiche
    • The literary practice of extended imitation of the style of a writer
    • It is often used in a satirical manner but may sometimes be admiring
  • Misprision - the reinterpretation of texts during the process of adoption, translation, and reworking

What is the difference between adaptations and appropriations?

  • The two are different in how explicitly they reference an intertext
    • Adaptations are obviously a re-reading or interpretation of a text while appropriations are more subtle
    • Adaptations often involve a cultural change, an updating of the text for current audiences, or a different context
    • Appropriations are less explicit, and often re-interpret a text through a political or ethical lense
  • Adaptation
    • Constitutes a sustained engagement with a single text (more than a simple quote or allusion)
    • Linked to the idea of hybridity (things are repeated, relocated, and translated)
    • There are three main categories of adaptation
      • Transposition, commentary, and analogue
    • Transposition - shifting the original to a new genre, culture, geography, time (as many or few shifts as wanted)
      • Ex: Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet changed both culture and time
    • Commentary - adaptations that comment on the politics of the source text, or the new work, or both
      • Ex: Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park as an adaptation of The Tempest used Sycorax as a commentary on British colonialism/ slavery
    • Analogue - adaptations which stand alone/ do not require knowledge of original source
      • Ex: Amy Heckerling’s Clueless  which is a variation of Jane Austen’s Emma
    • Adaptations may include the following techniques
      • Parallelism - following/ mimicking original text
      • Amplification - adding. expanding original
      • Reduction - cutting down on the original
      • Proximation - bringing the text closer to the audience's frame of reference/ moving adaptation closer in time
  • Appropriation
    • Constitutes sustained engagement with the text, but often adopts a posture of critique (perhaps even assault)
    • Appropriations do not clearly signal to source text
    • Two broad categories of appropriation: embedded texts and sustained appropriations
    • Embedded texts and interplay are stand-alone works and modern reworkings of their originals
      • Ex: West Side Story would not exist without Romeo and Juliet,  and it highlighted issues of race conflict in New York at the time
    • Sustained appropriations are those that closely mimic the original (this may be in writing style, plotline, structure, etc.)
  • Interestingly, some works may be adaptations and appropriations at the same time
    • Ex: Kiss Me Kate is based of The Taming of the Shrew
      • There is pure adaptation in the play-within-a-play aspect (a theater troupe performs The Taming of the Shrew)
      • There is also appropriation in the wider story of the theater performers
  • There has been great controversy over sustained appropriation
    • Is it homage or plagiarism?
    • ex: Graham Swift’s Last Orders mimicked William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying in plot, similar monologues, similar characters
      • He was accused of plagiarism/ being unoriginal but he said that his work was an homage to As I Lay Dying
    • Perhaps if he had originally stated/ openly declared this homage he would have not been criticized as harshly, but then we would have lost connections to other sources
      • Last Orders also has links with T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and old English poems Wanderer and Seafarer
      • We might have never seen these links if Graham had explicitly cited As I Lay Dying

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief CSI

Desdemona: A play about a handkerchief: CSI
J.D. Capelouto and Megan Rodgers

  • Paula Vogel
    • Married to Anne Fausto Sterling - professor of gender studies
    • Pulitzer prize for How I Learned to Drive
  • First produced in New York City in 1993
  • The 1990’s were an age of “Third-Wave feminism”
    • During this time feminists challenged traditional gender roles and norms, especially the claim that women cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys can; it was a time where sexual freedom was somewhat celebrated
  • Class warfare and conflict was big in the 1990’s, especially in New York (Think “Rent”)
  • Written as a tribute (“rip-off”) to Shakespeare the Sadist by Wolfgang Bauer, in which the scenes are written as multiple “takes” with short breaks in between.

  • Feminism
    • Vogel explores women's limited roles in the male-dominated society of Ancient Cyprus.
    • Desdemona feels trapped in her marriage and suppressed by Othello so she escapes by going to Bianca’s brothel
    • Relationships between the women of the play are the main focus
      • Main focus is on relationship between Emilia and Desdemona - their fates both depend on how much they trust each other
    • Bianca is viewed as a “free woman” who is not held down by marriage
    • Desdemona wears a moon ring and gives it to Emelia - this symbolizes feminine power, sensuality, and fertility
  • Class Relationships
    • Relationship between the three different classes (Upper, middle, low) represented by the three women
    • Desdemona, high class, uses Bianca, low class, for amusement: “I never tire of hearing your stories...What else have I got for amusement’s sake” (p. 37)
    • Desdemona treats Emelia like she is on a lower level, but Emelia does the same thing to Bianca
  • Deception and Trust
    • Desdemona and Othello   
      • Desdemona actually does betray Othello’s trust in this version
      • Deceives him into thinking she is innocent
        • white outfit
        • arranges her face into an insipid, fluttering innocence, then girlishly runs to the door” (pg. 12) - Desdemona stage direction as she prepares to go see Othello
    • Desdemona and Emilia
      • Desdemona originally plans on leaving Emilia behind but decieves her into thinking that she will bring her
        • Eventually tells her the truth and trusts that Emilia won’t tell Othello
      • Emilia deceives Desdemona about handkerchief
        • Eventually changes her mind and tells Desdemona of the plot to save her life
      • The two eventually come to trust each other but by that point it is too late; Desdemona’s fate is sealed
  • Fate
    • Desdemona was destined to die and even her knowing about the plot was not enough to save her life
    • Even though this Desdemona is different than what we know from the traditional version, she is still destined to the same fate and cannot change it

  • Shakespeare’s Othello
    • Uses same characters but changes their personalities - especially Desdemona’s
    • Some scenes from Othello are alluded to but not directly shown
      • scene where Othello slaps Desdemona because of handkerchief (p. 13)
  • Biblical References
    • Emilia is the more religious character, also portrayed as the only one to remain faithful
      • Rosary beads
      • Constantly praying
    • Contradictory messages from the Bible? (pro-faith, anti-woman)