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Literature and series, Lorient, France, 26-28 March 2015
full name / name of organization:
Groupe Universitaire d’Études sur les Séries Télévisées (GUEST)
Literature and TV series
Much has been written about television as a writer’s medium, largely in contrast to film, where directors supposedly rule the roost. This assumption is all the more ironic given that long-running television series have only recently come to rely on adapting the literary texts that have long been a mainstay in inspiring theatrical-length films. However much this difference between cinema and television may have been exaggerated, the relationship between text and television is a fruitful and complex one that merits consideration. In the 2015 edition of GUEST’s annual conference on television series, we will be examining the relationship between “Literature and TV series”. Whether it be literary adaptations, the mainstay of PBS and the BBC now being used as the premise for long-running series, or the increased emphasis on television as literature, with the novelistic tendencies of series like The Wire and the renewed interest in television anthologies in series like American Horror Story or True Detective, this conference seeks to elucidate how literature and television inform one another in this new golden age of television.
· Literary inspiration: What is the importance of the use of iconic characters (Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, Elementary, or House; fairy tales in Grimm, or Once Upon a Time, Greek and Roman mythology in Xena, Hercules, Battlestar Galactica or Caprica)? How does television breathe new life into literary texts (Justified, Game of Thrones, True Blood), non-literary texts (Orange is the New Black, Homicide), or graphic novels (Arrow, Smallville, The Walking Dead)?
· Miniseries vs series vs film: does the use of literature change from limited-run to long-running television adaptations? How does adaptation change between film and television adaptations?
· The influence literary and television models have on one another: has TV viewing influenced today’s authors? Are showrunners indeed trying to make the TV series more novelistic (cf. The Following, where protagonist Joe Carroll creates events in the series to “write his novel”), beyond the theatrical forms (acts and scenes) that inform television’s narrative structure?
· What television is reading: how are authors (Castle, Bored to Death) or bookworms (Sawyer in Lost, Rory Gilmore in Gilmore Girls, Joey Tribbiani hiding his copy of The Shining in the freezer in Friends) portrayed in television series? What are the different functions of allusions to classic and popular literature in on the small screen?
· Text on screen: what is specific to television in the work in the writer’s room breaking the stories later to be filmed (and has that evolved with the new emphasis on the role of the showrunner)? What do texts bring to the screen, be it the use of epigraphs, title cards, and subtitles in television series, or screen-inspired texts, like Laura Palmer’s diary from Twin Peaks, Richard Castle’s Nikki Heat books, or the plethora of novelizations of cult series like Star Trek, X-Files, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
This list is not exhaustive.
Abstracts of 250 words and biographies can be sent to Shannon Wells-Lassagne (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 1st, 2014.