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Durham e-Theses
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The Classic-Novel Adaptation from 1995 to 2009

WHITE, REBECCA,ARWEN (2010) The Classic-Novel Adaptation from 1995 to 2009. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis explores the dynamic relationship between the nineteenth-century novel and the screen, interrogating evolving trends in film and television adaptation from the mid-1990s to 2009. In contrast to many other studies in this field, such productions are understood as both adaptations and ‘costume dramas’, whilst the often neglected televisual context is highlighted alongside the paratexts which shape and surround adaptations. At the same time, the enduring (yet often dismissed) notion of ‘fidelity’ is recognised and developed, as expectations of faithfulness extend beyond the literary text to privilege the legacies of prior adaptations. As this thesis will show, classic-novel adaptations are increasingly framed by change and tension, as movements towards ‘contemporising’ representations of the past, and reinvigorating costume drama, have been shadowed by a growing unease with the stylistic innovation and ubiquity of the genre.
An introductory chapter outlines theoretical approaches towards, and critical studies of, adaptation and costume drama, contextualising this thesis whilst defining new directions for study. Chapter one focuses upon Jane Austen, re-exploring the significance of Andrew Davies’s Pride and Prejudice (1995) and examining ‘Austenmania’s’ tense pull between tradition and innovation. Chapter two considers how conflicting perceptions of what constitutes ‘Gaskellian’ become interlinked with the struggle to characterise contemporary period adaptation. Chapter three explores the evolving interrelationship between the Brontës, the ‘Brontë Myth’ and the screen, whilst chapter four readdresses the long history of adapting Dickens, the ‘Dickensian’ film redefined by Davies’s ‘soap-like’ treatment of Bleak House (2005). A concluding chapter examines classic-novel adaptation in 2009, returning to Austen as emblematic of many of the issues confronting the genre, and offering some thoughts about its immediate future. Above all, this study interrogates the ever-shifting relationship between text and screen, enabling refreshing interpretations of both novel and adaptation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Oct 2010 10:12

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