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FINAL CALL [deadline 10 Feb 2012]: Panel on 'Maurice' (Forster, 1971/Ivory, 1987), AAS, York, UK, 27-28 Sep 2012
full name / name of organization:
Dr Claire Monk / De Montfort University, UK
FINAL CALL for Panel Participants (deadline FRIDAY 10 FEBRUARY)
7th Annual Conference of the Association of Adaptation Studies
September 2012 is the 25th anniversary of the 1987 Venice Film Festival premiere and US cinema release of Merchant Ivory Productions’ adaptation of E. M. Forster’s posthumously published gay bildungsroman and love story Maurice. (At Venice, the film won the Silver Lion for Ivory as director, a double Best Actor award for its unknown leads James Wilby and Hugh Grant, and the non-annual Golden Osella for Richard Robbins’ emotive orchestral score.)
To mark this anniversary – and to invite reappraisal of the film, novel, and their ‘ongoing lives’ in relation to this year’s AAS conference themes – I would like to constitute a panel on Maurice. If you would like to join me and contribute to this, please send proposals to email@example.com – copied to firstname.lastname@example.org – in time for the 10 February 2012 extended abstract deadline. Please send abstracts (within the body of your email) of not more than 250 words and include a biog-sketch of not more than 100 words.
During their ‘ongoing lives’, both Forster’s novel and Ivory’s film have suffered forms of reception that marginalise them as cultural objects worthy of analysis, from the initial 1970s reception of Forster’s Maurice as an ‘inferior’ work or a ‘fairytale’ to the dismissal of Ivory’s Maurice as merely a ‘heritage film’ – epitomised in Finch and Kwietniowski’s declaration that ‘Maurice [is] … fourthly, and only fourthly, about le vice anglais’ (1988:72). Such dismissals have, however, been outweighed over time by the profound, much-testified impact of the film and book alike on readers/audiences, and understandings of both have proved to be far from fixed: whether due to reappraisal of Maurice as the ‘first modern gay novel’ or as a ‘reader, I married him’ text of pivotal significance for pro-LGBT-marriage campaigners (Curr, 2001; DeSimone, 2007); or the belated apprehension of Merchant and Ivory as ‘gay filmmakers’ (Waugh, 2000:190); or as evidenced in the constantly surprising forms of post-2000 Web 2.0 fan productivity, (re-)adaptation and appreciation around their film (Monk, 2011).
Last, neither Forster’s novel nor Ivory’s film are stable or definitive ‘authored’ texts, if we consider factors such as the pre-published novel’s privately-circulated ‘invisible’ life over almost 60 years, and Forster’s revisions during that time (most drastically, of Part 4, in response to the comments of Lytton Strachey, Christopher Isherwood and others); or the impact and implications of the 2004 DVD special-edition release of Ivory’s film – with its 40-plus minutes of omitted scenes – in fostering and making visible fans’ intense and highly personal investments in the film (including calls for a three-hour-plus director’s cut).
The questions of ‘adaptation’ and ‘authorship’ raised by Maurice therefore extend, potentially, from the 1913–1971 ‘invisible’ history of the pre-published novel to the ongoing 21st-century lives of both film and book – including further instances of the adaptation of both across various media, or hitherto under-explored approaches to the film.
Dr Claire Monk