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A Theory of Adaptation

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  474 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Renowned literary scholar Linda Hutcheon explores the ubiquity of adaptations in all their various media incarnations and challenges their constant critical denigration. Adaptation, Hutcheon argues, has always been a central mode of the story-telling imagination and deserves to be studied in all its breadth and range as both a process (of creation and reception) and a prod ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Routledge (first published 2006)
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Sep 19, 2009 added it
Shelves: read-2009
Do you find yourself thinking about adaptation theory when your friends are talking about facebook apps? Ever come out of a movie adaptation of a book and think, hey they did some really interesting things with the source text there, I'm impressed? Do you like your theory with a good dose of non-snobbish simple english but still enough citations to fill half a bookshelf? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're a nerd and Linda Hutcheon's book is perfect for you.

One of the few peopl
Leigh Ann
Feb 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book could be much longer. In particular, I felt that the epilogue of the 2nd addition, though it pointed out some great examples of adaptations, fell short: where were the youtube adaptations, like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries that were hitting just as the book was getting ready for publication?

Also, it would have been nice to discuss the ineffectiveness of video game movies and analyze the possible reasons for this ineffectiveness.

All in all, though, it's a great read for anyone getting rea
Jan 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: academic
A very interesting read about adaptations! The first chapter is excellent: it discusses the value, meaning and benefits of adaptation not as a static thing, but as a process. The writing style is very accessible, without becoming too simplified.
The first chapter especially deals with the actual 'theory' of adaptation, while the other chapter dive deeper into the ideas posited in that first chapter. Those other chapters are thus also very interesting, although at times Hutcheon uses a lot of spa
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Would have preferred not to slam through this in 24 hours...but grad-level course condensed from 16 weeks to 8 weeks will do that, I guess.

I'd always wondered why, especially with literary texts I treasure, I eagerly anticipate film adaptations and then find myself both eager and disappointed. This book helped to articulate that paradox and the notion of why we crave adaptations and how our level of attachment to the adaptation tends to impact our demands as an audience. Useful in terms of my f
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great read on theories of adaptation, but less one star because of the very focused chapter on Carmen, which I couldn't quite engage with. ...more
I originally read this book for a film class which I took and I have mentioned it in my post about Pride and Prejudice films, so I decided to share my thoughts on it with you. This is a non-fiction, academic book which will tells you the basics of adaptations. I think it's good for learning about them on a basic level. I say basic because I think this is a good starting point for those just beginning to delve into this realm of academia.

This is a bit of a slow read because there is so much term
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This revised version is subtler, more sophisticated, and more up-to-date -- it wastes less time arguing against "fidelity studies" (which nobody does any more anyway, and not many people did even when it first came out -- even the "common reader" or moviegoer doesn't waste that much time any more saying,"The book is better," because it's clear what a pointless discussion that is -- and the epilogue by Siobhan O'Flynn takes adaptation theory up to mobile computing and transmedial genres or modes. ...more
Laura Walin
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
An interesting, clearly explained view on how adaptations are made from one media to another, what challenges there are, what are the adapters motives, and audiences' expectations. The addendum on social media and smartphones/pads is also an interesting one in explaining how the media that we use really afects the reception. This would be good reading to anybody interested in the phenomena of modern entertainment industry. ...more
Ash Connell-Gonzalez
Not as helpful for my thesis as I had hoped. For someone who spends a lot of time talking about telling versus showing, Hutcheon completely ignores the option of the graphic narrative in between the two.
Iris Windmeijer
This is a really nice book with great academic value. The topics that Hutcheon talks about are very interesting and her language and examples are clear and explained well.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To transfer the essence from one medium to another demands alteration.

As someone who loves literature and film I find this subject fascinating. I used to have a problem with adaptations, especially when it was done with a book as the source material and then into a film. I couldn’t stop thinking about the changes and how it annoyed me that it wasn’t “like the original”. This book helped me change that view. There is something unbelievably interesting about transmediation! Now I try to see an ad
Sheridan Library
An impressive amount of research on any and all things adaptations. What is an adaptation? Do memes and museum exhibits count? Are all performances basically an adaption of a script? What does 'based on a true story' really mean when the nature of historiography can be so subjective? What happens when stories criss-cross between different media formats? What changes in the story when social/cultural/political/historical perspectives change throughout time and place? Is franchise-building just a ...more
Crow N
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book is relatively short, but pretty dense in content. It took me a while to get all the way through, but the ideas it raises with regards to the reasons why adaptations are a thing, both from the perspective of those who make them and those who consume them are pretty neat!
It's very pleasantly annotated and cited, which is always a bonus if, like me, you are reading the thing because you need sources on your own paper.
Overall, I do recommend it, both because it was a nice read, and because
Conor Seery
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hutcheon forgoes the reticent idea of judging a an adaptation by its fidelity or proximity to its source, instead offering a refreshing view that liberates adaptations from the idea that they are 2nd class. This is an incredibly stimulating book, the precedent being that an adaptation should be judged on it's own merits, perhaps even on the ingenuity of its transfer to a different medium. Medium, however, is not the be all and end all and perhaps the best way of theorizing adaptation is through ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Linda Hutcheon makes sure she leaves her definition of Adaptation clear: it is repetition without replication. She is interested in the ways of interactions these adaptations can take, like the telling, showing, and participatory mode.
She rarely mentions 'appropriation'. However, she does mention transmedia adaptations in different contexts and with the example of 'Carmen' she shows the changes that a work can take, which is Juie Sanders's words would be appropriation.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is not as great as I expected; looks confusing at times and over-saturated with examples! However, it's a great book to start with, when it comes to studying "adaptation". Linda Hutcheon with an unbelievably extended familiarity with variable adapted texts scrutinizes the different aspects of adaptation and how to think about that. Well recommended! ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and clear. Though it would have been more helpful if she also included book adaptations.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting and insightful read that left me wanting more.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Hutcheon makes some good points, but is too dismissive of non-conventional adaptation methods and mediums to actually make a text that looks at adaptation wherever it can be found.
Dec 15, 2020 added it
Easily the strangest textbook I've ever read. It's not so much bad, as full of good points that are often instantly contradicted. ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
So much more could be included in this book!
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Honestly, I'm a bit disappointed with this book, but I qualify that in two ways--1) I have a very high opinion of Linda Hutcheon, and 2) I was not the target audience for this book. This second point is the more important. Hutcheon states that this book is targeted at critics/readers/viewers who see adaptations as unoriginal texts that are inherently derivative, denigrating, less-than, or otherwise taking away from "original" works. Because I don't view adaptations this way, a lot of the books m ...more
In my review of the first edition of this book, I criticized it for not developing a real theory of adaptation, but for talking through a number of associated concerns, including issues of transmediality and shifting between modes of presentations--telling, showing, and interacting. I still think this assessment is true. But upon rereading the book it seems much more coherent than I originally thought. Yes, Hutcheon's focus is on differences in the various modes of conveying info, but she develo ...more
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-thesis
This was good. She has a slightly different take than my naive theory of adaption (books-->movies) categorizing the different media in her book as either telling (prose), showing (performance), and interactive (video games and entertainment parks). Moving between media is discussed, staying within the same media but reinterpreting, and why anyone would ever bother adapting period are topics she covers.

I especially liked that last one, because I <3 authorial intent and context--perhaps a little
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
A classic in the field of adaptation theory, and now a second edition adds an epilogue that addresses multi-platform and interactive adaptations. Hutcheon offers a rich and thoughtful reading of all angles of adaptation, from why adapt? to what actually counts as adaptation. Perhaps the only flaw is that in her desire to be thorough, she sometimes gets repetitive.
Apr 28, 2013 added it
Shelves: uni
I'm just getting started, but if you're interested in the mechanisms behind adaptations of all kinds, I think I can already recommend this book. It's very engagingly written - you can feel that this is a subject that Hutcheon is genuinely fascinated by. I'm reading it for my MA dissertation, but I think it could make an interesting read as a non-fiction book outside of any academic context. ...more
Great book to read if you're interested in how adaptation works and how it interacts with other aspects of media and society. Was led to read this by the podcast Oh, Witch Please, which is a series focusing on Harry Potter. ...more
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Useful break from comparing the book to the film, but spent a lot of time on videogames that I don't care about. The fan works discussion is literally tacked on by a co-author. That said, the good parts were good. ...more
Aug 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Went on a little too long, some things quite obvious, but gave me some good ideas for writing assignments.
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