Gothic Adaptation: Intermedial and Intercultural Shape-Shifting

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2023) | Viewed by 14370

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
English Studies Department, Lewis University, Romeoville, IL 60446, USA
Interests: gothic; victorian literature and culture; adaptation studies; film studies

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
English Studies Department, Lewis University, Romeoville, IL 60446, USA
Interests: gothic; twentieth-century American literature; film studies; adaptation studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Gothic is a wide-ranging mode that comprises multiple genres, including but not limited to literature, drama, film, television, art, music, games, comics, and graphic novels. It is also a shape-shifting mode. Like vampires or werewolves, expressions of the Gothic frequently and uncannily change form, thereby calling into question the stability and desirability of fixed generic, cultural, and mediatic boundaries. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), the most often adapted Gothic text, first took the shape of both a novel and a play before transforming into innumerable plays, operas, ballets, graphic novels, TV shows, films, comics, and games. Extending across genres and centuries alike, versions of Dracula’s story are even more multiform and long-lived than the vampire himself. They demonstrate how adaptation is the lifeblood of the Gothic, the means by which it sustains itself, evolves, and meets its moment.

For this Special Issue of Humanities, we invite proposals for essays that investigate the many forms and functions of Gothic adaptation. These essays might consider but are no means limited to the following questions.

  • How, and to what extent, might adaptation be considered a Gothic practice? How might it involve not only shape-shifting but also vampirism, hybridity, the uncanny, narrative complexity, and other key features of the Gothic?
  • In transnational forms such as manga and anime, how are intermedial and intercultural Gothic adaptation related?
  • How might adaptation (further) involve queer Gothic texts, and how do queer adaptations relate to their queer or heteronormative antecedents?
  • Might Gothic adaptation be construed not as a one-way process, but as a conversation between or among texts? Is it possible to extrapolate a narrative that at once expresses itself within and transcends original and adapted iterations?
  • How are tensions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture explored and expressed in intermedial and/or intercultural Gothic adaptation? What happens when novels become games or comics; or, conversely, when ‘low’ forms are ‘elevated’?
  • How might Gothic texts engage in a palimpsestic intertextuality of multiple media involving, for instance, film, novel, graphic novel, theatre, poetry, and serial television? How should we understand a multi-adapted text?
  • Where and how do the Gothic and the Surreal intersect in an occularcentric twenty-first century that privileges the visual when adapting any text, written or otherwise?
  • How might the Gothic assume a significant role in a pedagogy of adaptation? How does the study of Gothic texts in pedagogical contexts expand adaptation studies?
  • In what ways have Gothic texts been the subjects of sustained and intensive cultural reworkings, retellings, and/or homogenized reiterations, and what politics underwrite such processes?

In response to these or other questions of Gothic adaptation, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words, together with a short bibliography of primary and critical texts, to both Dr. Jamil Mustafa and Dr. Christopher Wielgos at [email protected] and [email protected]. Abstracts are due by 31 July 2022. Finished essays of around 6000 words are due by 31 January 2023.

Dr. Jamil Mustafa
Dr. Christopher Wielgos
Guest Editors

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Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 309 KiB  
Article
Monsters in Mirrors: Duality, Triangulation, and Multiplicity in Two Adaptations of Jekyll and Hyde
by Jamil Mustafa
Humanities 2023, 12(6), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12060149 - 15 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1644
Abstract
Jacques Derrida’s theory of deconstruction provides an ideal means of appreciating and interrogating the duality central to both Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and its adaptations. Moreover, because deconstruction exposes binary oppositions as artificial and constrictive, it [...] Read more.
Jacques Derrida’s theory of deconstruction provides an ideal means of appreciating and interrogating the duality central to both Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and its adaptations. Moreover, because deconstruction exposes binary oppositions as artificial and constrictive, it enables us to advance beyond them toward multiplicity, a term used by Gilles Deleuze for a complex, ever-changing, multipart structure that transcends unity. Roy Ward Baker’s Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and episodes of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful (2014–2016) offer fresh ways to think about—and beyond—the duality of culture’s most famously divided pair. The binary oppositions that organize each text are innovative, as are the ways in which these oppositions are reversed and conflated. Ultimately, these adaptations employ triangulation to deconstruct themselves, thereby demonstrating the limitations and instability of duality, as well as the possibilities of multiplicity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gothic Adaptation: Intermedial and Intercultural Shape-Shifting)
11 pages, 273 KiB  
Article
Place, Space, and the Affordances Thereof: Bly Manor as Depicted in Three Adaptations of The Turn of the Screw
by Kristoffer S. Ekroll
Humanities 2023, 12(6), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12060134 - 8 Nov 2023
Viewed by 2202
Abstract
This paper looks at the representation of Bly Manor across different adaptations of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898). The focus is on adaptations that emphasize Bly as an intricate space that limits the possibilities of actions that the main characters [...] Read more.
This paper looks at the representation of Bly Manor across different adaptations of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898). The focus is on adaptations that emphasize Bly as an intricate space that limits the possibilities of actions that the main characters have. The theory of affordance states that places “afford” different uses of the space. Locked inside a place with uneasily determined affordances and clearly established rules, the main characters of these adaptations experience how different intersections of identities are afforded differently within the stately home. The paper traces the intertextual conversation through adaptations such as Jack Clayton’s film The Innocents (1961), the readaptation of James’s premise in Ruth Ware’s novel The Turn of the Key (2019), before ending with the intertextual and temporal dimensions of haunted space in Mike Flanagan’s streaming miniseries The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020). These iterations of the story showcase the voyeuristic elements of Bly as the characters are repeatedly watched by those who have come before them. At the same time, they show the ongoing appeal of James’s story as its legacy continues into the twenty-first century. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gothic Adaptation: Intermedial and Intercultural Shape-Shifting)
11 pages, 255 KiB  
Article
‘Danger: Children at Play’: Uncanny Play in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary
by Krista Collier-Jarvis
Humanities 2023, 12(5), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12050090 - 29 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1102
Abstract
Representations of play abound in Stephen King’s 1983 novel Pet Sematary and its 1989 and 2019 subsequent film adaptations. However, play in Pet Sematary is not representative of the innocent actions designed to create functioning adults who meaningfully contribute to society. In the [...] Read more.
Representations of play abound in Stephen King’s 1983 novel Pet Sematary and its 1989 and 2019 subsequent film adaptations. However, play in Pet Sematary is not representative of the innocent actions designed to create functioning adults who meaningfully contribute to society. In the 1989 film, for example, “play” for a newly resurrected Gage is a version of hide-and-go-seek resulting in the death of neighbour Jud. Meanwhile, the 2019 adaptation sees a newly resurrected Ellie “playing” in her dirt-stained white funereal dress. These dirt stains become markers of lost innocence and transform her dance into an uncanny performance. Since Gage and Ellie are both somewhat monstrous child figures, their play, like their bodies, is transformed into something unsettling and ventures into the realm of the uncanny. However, play itself is also performed differently between the adaptations because the central child figure also changes. In the 1989 film, it is a male toddler, and in the 2019 film, it is a pre-pubescent female. Both adaptations focus on ideal, socially acceptable forms of play according to the time in which the film was made as well as how children diverge from these behaviours. Play is often rendered dangerous when not performed properly according to the paradigms of age and gender, resulting in what I call ‘uncanny play’. When children engage with ‘uncanny play’, the adults in the narrative are permitted to execute the children for the sake of preserving the memory of them as innocent beings, or what I call the ‘Save the Child’ discourse. Linda Hutcheon argues that ‘when we adapt […] we actualize or concretize ideas’, so that the socially acceptable play put forth in King’s novel becomes more realised and thus more at risk to transgression in each successive filmic adaptation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gothic Adaptation: Intermedial and Intercultural Shape-Shifting)
10 pages, 224 KiB  
Article
Monsters on MTV: Adaptation and the Gothic Music Video
by Drago Momcilovic
Humanities 2023, 12(4), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12040071 - 27 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1939
Abstract
Music videos of the MTV era often use gothic visual signifiers as decorative elements or creative expressions of the musician’s star persona or latest record. But several video clips from the early 1980s adapt the figure of gothic monstrosity, and in particular, the [...] Read more.
Music videos of the MTV era often use gothic visual signifiers as decorative elements or creative expressions of the musician’s star persona or latest record. But several video clips from the early 1980s adapt the figure of gothic monstrosity, and in particular, the images and stories of the undead or beastly Other, in ways that dramatize the music video’s evolving aesthetic, commercial, and technological character and its unpredictable relation to Gothic. In this article, I look closely at the narrative elements of two important configurations of gothic-themed video clips: “Don’t Go” (1982) by Yazoo, “Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)” (1983) by Sheena Easton, and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (1993) by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which creatively adapt textual elements of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein and its various film adaptations and parodies and its cultural significance in the modern Western imaginary; and “Thriller” (1983) by Michael Jackson and “Heads Will Roll” (2009) by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which likewise adapt and reimagine aspects of John Landis’s 1981 horror comedy film An American Werewolf in London and its afterlife in the modern media ecosystem. These videos, I argue, trouble conventional understandings of the practice of adaptation as a one-to-one line of inheritance between source material and destination text. In so doing, furthermore, these clips amplify and elaborate certain socio-cultural anxieties about gender and race, personal and professional identity and autonomy, and technological innovation and automation that animate their source materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gothic Adaptation: Intermedial and Intercultural Shape-Shifting)
14 pages, 299 KiB  
Article
Blue Chambers, Bluebooks, and Contes Bleus: Gothic Terror and Female Deviance in Nineteenth-Century Adaptations of ‘Bluebeard’
by Alessandro Cabiati
Humanities 2023, 12(4), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12040060 - 6 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1855
Abstract
With its suspenseful atmosphere, mysterious and murderous male protagonist, and magical objects, it is hardly surprising that Charles Perrault’s conte bleu ‘La Barbe bleue’ (1697) was the inspiration for numerous Gothic tales in the nineteenth century. Some of these adaptations placed Gothic devices [...] Read more.
With its suspenseful atmosphere, mysterious and murderous male protagonist, and magical objects, it is hardly surprising that Charles Perrault’s conte bleu ‘La Barbe bleue’ (1697) was the inspiration for numerous Gothic tales in the nineteenth century. Some of these adaptations placed Gothic devices such as the representation of the terror experienced by Bluebeard’s latest wife within the broader nineteenth-century cultural discourse on female deviance, and its relations with masculine authority and dominance. By removing from the tale Perrault’s warning against female curiosity and imprudence and focusing on the wife’s feelings of fear and terror, these adaptations amplify the intrinsic Gothicism of the Bluebeard story, thus providing the female protagonist with a psychological depth that includes, as I demonstrate in this study, a display of a variety of abnormal behaviours. In these Gothic adaptations, the terror experienced by Bluebeard’s wife serves as a springboard for the representation of psychological and nervous disorders commonly diagnosed in the nineteenth century such as hysteria, monomania, female depravity, and masochism. Showing the interculturality and intermediality of these themes, this essay analyses rewritings of Perrault’s ‘Bluebeard’ from nineteenth-century Britain, France, and the United States, including Gothic bluebooks, poems, dramas, and short stories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gothic Adaptation: Intermedial and Intercultural Shape-Shifting)
10 pages, 225 KiB  
Article
Visions of Red Riding Hood: Transformative Bodies in Contemporary Adaptations
by Elizabeth Abele
Humanities 2023, 12(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12030048 - 12 Jun 2023
Viewed by 2239
Abstract
Gothic and sexual elements are embedded within both Charles Perrault’s and the Brothers Grimm’s tellings of “Little Red Riding Hood”. When popular culture turned to fairy tales from the late 20th century forward, reimagining them as gothic tales for adults, “Little Red Riding [...] Read more.
Gothic and sexual elements are embedded within both Charles Perrault’s and the Brothers Grimm’s tellings of “Little Red Riding Hood”. When popular culture turned to fairy tales from the late 20th century forward, reimagining them as gothic tales for adults, “Little Red Riding Hood” provided a particularly rich setting. In particular, these adaptations exploited the false binaries within these tales while making more visible the sexual abuse and recovery encoded in the narratives. This essay will first explore the particular gothic qualities within this tale, as well as the shapeshifting nature of the four characters. After establishing how the figure of Red, as well as her motifs, are key to ensemble fairy-tale narratives, I will examine adaptations that directly explore the sexuality and agency of a young woman, as she resists both predators and her family legacy. However, the last section will note that monstrosity, like victimization, can be resisted. Overall, this essay interrogates contemporary film and television adaptations of this tale, with a particular interest in the messages of recovery and agency in these new versions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gothic Adaptation: Intermedial and Intercultural Shape-Shifting)
11 pages, 978 KiB  
Article
“This Girl Changed the Story of the World”: Queer Complications of Authority in KindaTV’s Carmilla
by Drumlin N. M. Crape
Humanities 2023, 12(3), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12030042 - 25 May 2023
Viewed by 1768
Abstract
This article investigates the intersection of adaptations of narrative content and form as exemplified in the KindaTV YouTube series Carmilla (2014–2016), a contemporary revisioning of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire novella of the same name. By contextualizing Le Fanu’s text within the [...] Read more.
This article investigates the intersection of adaptations of narrative content and form as exemplified in the KindaTV YouTube series Carmilla (2014–2016), a contemporary revisioning of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire novella of the same name. By contextualizing Le Fanu’s text within the emerging medicalized discourse around so-called deviant sexualities and close reading the invocations of medical, legal, and narrative authority within Carmilla, I reveal an approach to authority which upholds hegemony. Consequently, in engaging with KindaTV’s YouTube adaptation, the rehabilitating of queer feelings and connections reframes authority within the narrative, while the interactive platform and active fan communities resist the idea of a single textual authority. By considering the source text and adaptation through the lens of authority, it becomes clear that, as part of addressing the homophobic history of the Gothic, KindaTV’s Carmilla presents a world full of possibilities that directly opposes the way authorities like legal, medical, and academic systems have historically pathologized queer people. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gothic Adaptation: Intermedial and Intercultural Shape-Shifting)
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