IAS Fellows' Seminar - Towards an Aesthetics of Adaptation
In this seminar, we want to look at the theory of adaptation as a cultural and aesthetic practice. Adaptation today is the dominant practice in culture industry but it has also been for centuries the model of emulation in literature and the arts: originality has only in the past 250 years become the hallmark for literary genius. This historical perspective may open our eyes for the observation by Linda Hutcheon that ‘adaptation is not the exception but the norm of human imagination’. If this is so, we may wonder what kind of effect adaptations have on the reader or viewer who realizes that what she reads or sees is something she has read or seen before – though with a difference. The pleasure (or sometimes intense displeasure) at seeing an adaptation as an adaptation might have something to do with our biological set-up and our cognitive-affective apparatus much older than the kind of cultural products we process mentally and emotionally today. So, there are two sets of structures we want to look at: first, the structural consistency which permits recognizing an adaptations as an adaptation; second, the structure of our perception which shapes the range of reactions we may have to adaptations we have recognised as such.
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