Session at Universities Art Association of Canada

The ubiquity of literary adaptations in popular culture and the fine arts attests to the appeal in revisiting prior works across various media and genres. Concomitantly, post-Romantic ideals of originality and the practice of fidelity criticism have demoted adaptations to the status of inferior incarnations. However, by recognizing the adaptation as a product of an innately interpretative process of “appropriating or salvaging” (Linda Hutcheon: "A Theory of Adaptation," 2006, 20), the subsequent embodiment can be perceived as an autonomous formal entity.

This interdisciplinary session looks beyond the primacy of the literary text by positioning "iconic" works of art as the points of departure for pictorial adaptations. Examples include Max von Schillings’ 1915 opera "Mona Lisa," Stephen Sondheim’s 1984 musical "Sunday in the Park with George", and Tracy Chevalier’s 1999 historical novel "Girl with a Pearl Earring." Papers may explore the impact of media specific modes of engagement on the identity of the source image, the challenges of overcoming the axiomatic authority of the canonical work of art, or the dynamics of inter-semiotic shifts. The linking of art history and visual culture to intermedial studies, translation theories, and the performing arts are particularly welcome.

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