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From Fidelity to History: Film Adaptations as Cultural Events in the Twentieth Century

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Volume 3

Transatlantic Perspectives

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From Fidelity to History

Film Adaptations as Cultural Events in the Twentieth Century

Anne-Marie Scholz

252 pages, 26 figures & 3 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-731-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2013)

ISBN  978-1-78533-034-6 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (November 2015)

eISBN 978-0-85745-732-5 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


From History to Fidelity undeniably demonstrates the benefits of the historical case study as a method to show how the factual, cultural and political circumstances of a certain period inform the public and critical response to the films but also the act of adaptation-as-reception… a thoroughly researched and… highly insightful work on the cultural history of transnational cinema.” · Amerikastudien / American Studies

“Overall, Scholz’s highly readable and accessible book contributes new insights to the field of adaptation studies and the individual films that she so thoroughly and eloquently studies. She achieves a balance in considering films as both industrial products and artistic achievement and her transnationality and, more specifically, her bi-lingual skills give her important access to German language secondary source material, hitherto not included in English-language studies of these works. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in transatlantic adaptations or indeed any of the films she considers and its intellectual paradigm is both expansive and offers a significant contribution to current debates in adaptation studies.” · Cercles. Revue pluridisciplinaire du Monde Anglophone

 “The text successfully makes a convincing case for reconsidering adaptation studies as an inter-disciplinary process residing at the intersection between historiography and reception studies… Scholz’s multiple interventions are valuable in expanding the vocabulary of both adaptation and film as modes of interpreting history.” · Film & History

“I am very impressed with the author’s research and writing skills. The book is well organized and presented to the reader… By using a series of select case studies of film adaptation and reception, she demonstrates that texts dealing with gender issues, with personal identity, war, and the division of Europe into Western and Eastern blocs provided a focal point for fierce critical debate over the nature of political and civic values.” · Lary May, University of Minnesota


Scholarly approaches to the relationship between literature and film, ranging from the traditional focus upon fidelity to more recent issues of intertextuality, all contain a significant blind spot: a lack of theoretical and methodological attention to adaptation as an historical and transnational phenomenon. This book argues for a historically informed approach to American popular culture that reconfigures the classically defined adaptation phenomenon as a form of transnational reception. Focusing on several case studies— including the films Sense and Sensibility (1995) and The Portrait of a Lady (1997), and the classics The Third Man (1949) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)—the author demonstrates the ways adapted literary works function as social and cultural events in history and how these become important sites of cultural negotiation and struggle.

Anne-Marie Scholz holds a teaching affiliation with the University of Bremen, Germany and is currently an Adjunct Professor of American Studies at the University of Konstanz. She is also a freelance language teacher and translator. She has published in The European Journal of American Studies, Film and History, Amerikastudien/American Studies, and German History and has taught at the Universities of Bonn, Hamburg, Tübingen, Bremen, and the University of California, Irvine.

Subject: Cultural Studies (General) History: 20th Century to Present Film and Television Studies


List of Illustrations

Introduction: Adaptation as Reception: How Film Historians Can Contribute to the ‘Literature to Film’ Debates

Part I: Post Cold War Readings of the Receptions of Anglo-American Hollywood Adaptations in Cold War West Germany: 1950-1963

Chapter 1. “Eine Revolution des Films”: The Third Man (1949), The Cold War, and Alternatives to Nationalism and ‘Coca-colonization’ in Europe
Chapter 2. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Revisited: Combat Cinema, American Culture and the German Past
Chapter 3. “Josef K von 1963”: Orson Welles’ ‘Americanized’ Version of the The Trial and the Changing Functions of the ‘Kafkaesque’ in Cold War West Germany

Part II: Postfeminist Relations between ‘Classic’ Texts and Hollywood Film Adaptations in the United States in the 1990s: Introduction

Chapter 4. “Jane-Mania”: The Jane Austen Film Boom in the 1990s
Chapter 5. Thelma and Sense and Louise and Sensibility: Challenging Dichotomies in Women’s History Through Film and Literature
Chapter 6. “Jamesian Proportions”: The Henry James Film Boom in the 1990s

Conclusion: A Case for the ‘Case Study’: The Future of Adaptation Studies as a Branch of Transnational Film History

Appendix I: Mediating Apparent and Latent Content (Tables 1 & 2)
Appendix II: Model of Adaptation as a Process of Reception

Archival Collections Consulted
Primary Literary Works
Selected Bibliography

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