Andrew Davies: the screenwriter as adaptor (18th March 2016)

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De Montfort University

Keynote and plenary discussion with Andrew Davies

In celebration of the newly acquired Andrew Davies archive, the Centre of Adaptations and Centre for Textual Studies, De Montfort University, are hosting a one-day conference on the British screenwriter. Alongside entering into a conversation about the writer's oeuvre, conference delegates will be invited to attend a discussion with Davies and visit a new exhibition at De Montfort University's Heritage Centre. Archival materials on display will include original scripts from some of Davies' most loved adaptations, such as Pride and Prejudice, alongside letters and notes between Davies and his collaborators.

Davies is perhaps most famous for his work on the BBC's 1995 Pride and Prejudice with his vision of Darcy becoming one of the most enduring images of late 20th century popular culture. As well as revisiting Darcy with commercially successful adaptations of Helen Fielding's modern-day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice - Bridget Jones's Diary - Davies' legacy is wide-ranging in terms of classic-novel and contemporary fiction adaptations.

His work on contemporary adaptations, such as Alan Hollinghurst's Booker Prize winning The Line of Beauty (2006), House of Cards (1990-95) – subsequently adapted by Netflix to represent a contemporary American context - and on film productions such as Brideshead Revisited (2008) and The Three Musketeers (2011), sit alongside other period serialisations. These include, Middlemarch (1994), Vanity Fair (1998), Wives and Daughters (1999), The Way We Live Now (2001), Daniel Deronda (2002), Doctor Zhivago (2002), Tipping the Velvet (2002), Bleak House (2005), Northanger Abbey (2007), Sense and Sensibility (2008), Affinity (2008), Little Dorrit (2008), and Mr Selfridge (2013). The imminent release of his adaptation of War and Peace (2016) for the BBC has already been met with anticipation. And so it is with great timeliness that we will be able to exhibit scripts and welcome papers on this latest work.

Davies' original work provides a similarly broad array of material due for critical evaluation, moreover. His early plays for radio and television, for instance, demonstrate none of the characteristics now attributed to the Davies name with two particularly recurrent themes of education and government bureaucracy apparent in texts such as Is That Your Body, Boy?, A Martyr to the System (1976), the Marmalade Atkins series, and most notably in the BAFTA-award winning satire, A Very Peculiar Practice (1986-88).

This conference thus seeks to initiate a critical appraisal of Davies' work, situating analysis of individual productions within the context of a wider oeuvre and interrogating the role of the screenwriter/adaptor within the adaptive process.

We invite abstracts of no more than 300 words for 20-minute papers that address Davies' work or, more broadly, the role of the screenwriter/adaptor in the adaptation process. We also welcome expressions of interest for panels on a specific theme or topic.
Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

• The role of the screenwriter in adaptation
• The adaptation industry
• The heritage industry
• The BBC
• Marketing period drama
• Adapting historical fiction
• Adapting the literary canon
• Classic novel adaptation
• Authorship
• Television drama
• Gender and race in period adaptation

Successful papers will be considered for publication in a special edition of the Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance.
Please email abstracts as well as queries or expressions of interest to both organisers by January 31st 2016, Anna Blackwell, anna.blackwell@dmu.ac.uk and Natalie Hayton, natalie.hayton@dmu.ac.uk. Please include your name, research area and affiliation (if applicable) in all correspondence.