'Ruined!': On Failed Adaptations from Page to Screen (Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / American

Emily Lauer (SUNY Suffolk County Community College)

Derek McGrath (SUNY University at Buffalo)

An adaptation from page to screen is fraught with tension due to potentially conflicting goals: on the one hand, adhering to its source material, and on the other hand, attempting to make something new. Adaptation can be imagined as an argument between the creator of the original text and the creator of its adaptation, hilariously - and perhaps accurately - represented by Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep’s characters cursing each other in the appropriately titled film Adaptation.

This session will explore adaptations that fail in some way. Among our goals, we would like to identify what could be productive about failed adaptations. How do such failures identify what not to do? And can an adaptation that fails to be faithful to its source material still produce a valuable, worthwhile text?

Potential topics will include not only those adaptations that diverge so drastically from the plot, characterization, and setting of the original story but also the formal differences. How does the screen fail to adapt more covert aspects present in narration? How is the fantastic reduced to the realistic in image, performance, and setting? Which ekphrastic challenges did the creators fail to adapt moving between media?

This session will explore adaptations that fail in some way. Among our goals, we would like to identify what could be productive about failed adaptations. How do such failures identify what not to do, and can an adaptation that fails to be faithful to its source material still produce a valuable, worthwhile text? We are particularly interested in proposals that look at the adaptation of older artistic and literary forms in online and/or interactive content.