Low Fidelity: The Aesthetics and Politics of Adaptation (UCLA, 3 June 2016)

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UCLA Southland Graduate Student Conference

Keynote Speakers:
Kate Newell (Savannah College of Art and Design)
Arthur Little (UCLA)


"Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative" - HG Wells

"Every major rap artist in the world samples, you know? That's all I'm doing, is sampling." - Vanilla Ice on similarities between "Under Pressure" and "Ice Ice Baby"

In "Theory of Adaptation," Linda Hutcheon defines "adaptation" as "a derivation that is not derivative - a work that is second without being secondary." Defined by both its novelty and its familiarity, adaptation occupies a singular space in a contemporary cultural landscape increasingly reliant on recycling its raw materials. But is adaptation really its own thing? Severed from its source material, what claim does the adapted text make to autonomy? Isn't the adaptation's contingency—its dependence on its source material—the very thing that draws us to it? How do we reconcile our desire for innovation with our demand that an adaptation not deviate too much from its original? And how do those deviations change our understanding of the original text? What does "Clueless" (1995), for instance, do to our readings of Jane Austen's "Emma" (1815)? What is the responsibility of an adaptation to remain faithful to its source, and how do we measure that fidelity? By its style? By its spirit? By its story? And how might these questions inform other social and scientific understandings of "adaptation," broadly conceived? This year's Southland conference focuses on the question(s) of adaptation in its many formal and thematic permutations. Presentations may consider any dimension of the relationship between adaptation and literary or cultural production. Papers may engage with, though are not limited to, the following topics:

- cross-medium adaptation (re-mediation involving literature, film, opera, sculpture, performance, etc.)
- interliterary adaptation (e.g. revisionist texts, intertextuality, homage, fan fiction)
- cultural and environmental adaptation (e.g. postcolonial, bildungsroman, and travel narrative)
- the limits of adaptation (are some texts un-adaptable? what constitutes a faithful adaptation?)
- the stakes of originality in an increasingly adapted and adaptive world
- the ethics of adaptation and appropriation
- translation as adaptation
- historical fiction or speculative fiction as adaptation
- ecology, environment, and adaptation
- mutation and mutability
- the demand for adaptation and adaptability in the ever changing landscape of literary studies

The conference invites participants from across the humanities, and we actively encourage interdisciplinary work. Panels will be organized according to theme. Please send a 250-word abstract to uclafoesouthland2016@gmail.com by March 4. Include your name, contact information, department, and institution. Send any inquires to the same email address.

Prospective participants will be notified by April 1.
Conference will be held June 3, 2016 at UCLA.