NeMLA 2020: The Circle of the Adaptations: Beyond the Boundaries of Genres (Roundtable)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

When we say "adaptation", we often recall certain types of formulas that turn from literature to film. In recent years, however, adaptation has been taking place across literature-film-TV shows, and the distinct starting point of originality has been blurred. According to Darwin's definition, adaptation is "a process by which an animal or plant species is fitted to its environment.” If we expand the aperture to the field of humanities-based on this definition, adaptation is no longer merely an additive function that supports the original and extends its vitality to a minimum, rather, it has a new value in itself, and at the same time provides a healthy circulation in which the original can survive in a changing socio-cultural environment. This session examines the theories and practices of adaptation. Our aim is to move beyond superficial comparisons on the pros or cons of the originals and adaptations. Moreover, we will explore the dynamic dialogues between multiple versions of adaptations, asking how and why adaptations recorded and modified their sources in a particular manner.

The session will be including these questions but not limited to:

Why adaptations were made in the first place? Does film have a “language” of its own and is adaptation thus a form of translation? Or do stories necessarily change when they are projected rather than printed? What are the perceptual differences in the relationships of the reader to book and spectator to film? What does it take to turn a failed novel into a bestselling movie? What does it take for a filmmaker to preserve the aesthetic value when they turn it from page to screen? What are the intrinsic natures and conventions of different narrative forms? And could a “transmedial” adaptation be considered a prototype of adaptations to come?


This roundtable aims to reconsider the aesthetic value of adaptations when they are turned from page to screen, or screen to screen. Transmedial adaptations or adaptations within one media could be closely analyzed in detail, and this will allow us to appreciate and judge the adaptation process as an art in itself. Proposals for paper are expected to explore any aspects of adaptations from novel, short story, or theater to film or television show and from film to television show, among other possibilities.


Submissions are welcome in English from a broad range of disciplines.  Please submit paper proposals of 250-300 words through the NeMLA submission portal:

Deadline for submission is September 30, 2019.

NeMLA 2020 will be in Boston, MA on March 5-8, 2020 (  You can review the guidelines for proposal submission here:

Please direct any questions to the panel chairs, Bora Kang and Ruiyun Liao via email ( and