Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

To adapt or not to adapt, that is the question

July 7th, 2014 · No Comments

In my opinion, Bortolotti and Hutcheon present a fine argument in trying to get people to snap out of the expectations that an adaptation of any variety should not be considered as a “success” based upon the fidelity it has in accordance with the original work. They present an argument that is highly interesting in discussing that we should take a biological approach in discussing how successful a piece is based upon three characteristics, which are: persistence, abundance and diversity. They present that our expectations of an adaptation is much too singular and they argue that there is in fact a need to expand our horizons and base an adaptations success on it’s own characteristics (based upon cultural influences from the time) and not only upon our own expectations of what the work derived from. They say that we as a culture make our decisions of an adaptation based upon how close it is to the original, instead of acknowledging the fact that there has been a story told in a similar way before, but what we are seeing is a change to the story.
Their take of the “profound process” that is adaptation is one that I find quite persuasive and that I believe should be taken into serious consideration while considering adaptations of a work. Something that I agree with is that there needs to be recognition of what the adaptation is. Like in biology, the evolutionary traits of where the piece or organism comes from. We need to recognize that one is not better or worse than the other, rather there has been a change. Like with mutation there may be a benefit, detriment or neutral effect after the change has occurred; we should decide strictly upon what is being presented at the moment in time and not based upon where it comes from. The description of what has changed is what is important and whether or not proliferation happens from the new form is what is essential to understand. They present the idea that in order for something to be fairly judged and not just based upon similarities to the original, one must take into account the cultural significance of the time and what is popular and relevant. I find that the arguments they present are a generalization of the population, however I agree with the need to look as adaptations as a completely separate piece of work and take an increased biological ideological approach to what it is we are experiencing through a different medium.
It is in my belief, that diversity is something to be celebrated and not thwarted or cut off. What makes us different is what makes everyone and everything interesting. Just because we do something differently doesn’t necessarily mean that we are wrong and I believe that that is what the authors are trying to get across. Diversity and the change is what makes us want to read or watch something; if we knew exactly what was going to happen or how they were going to portray a piece then why would we watch it? There needs to be something different to engage us and keep us entertained and watching as opposed to just reusing the same material over and over again.
Overall, I found the article to be something of great interest. I believe that there is immensely profound work done through adaptations that largely get overlooked because of what the general public believes should or should not happen. We become those that know more than the artist does through their own personal interpretations and we get so caught up in what we think is right based upon what we know from the original, that we cannot see past our own ideas. I am talking in a very general and widespread way, however I believe that many of us do this. Keeping all of their arguments and ideas in mind, I hope to become a person that respects an adaptation for what it is and not analyze it based only upon where it came from.

Roberta Coleman


Works Cited:

Bortolotti, G. and Hutcheon, L. (2007). “On the Origin of Adaptations: Rethinking Fidelity Discourse and “Success” — Biologically.” New Literary History, 38(3), pp. 443-458.

Tags: adaptations

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