EXTENDED DEADLINE - Disruptive Entanglements: Transnational Considerations of Performance and Adaptation

deadline for submissions: 
December 16, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
The Harbour Journal

At times, there is a dissonance between what is considered the ‘original’ narrative and its adapted form. For example, the release of Neil Gaiman’s adaptation of his own work, The Sandman, caused controversy amongst those who had read the comic book series, mainly for the casting decisions of actors such as Kirby Howell-Baptiste who played Death and Jennifer Coleman who played Constantine, as their original characters in the comics where white or/and male. In the same vein, Amazon’s recent adaptation of Tolkien’s work, Rings of Power, creates tensions between fans of the author and a modern audience who may not be familiar with the source material because of the discrepancies between the two versions. Nevertheless, in other instances, the transnational (or cultural) performance or adaptation of a work is applauded for its ingenuity and its ability to push boundaries. In this respect, the Ridley Scott adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, rebranded as Blade Runner, was very successful and created the right environment for a conversation to emerge about what it means to be human and everything that entails. 

The terms transnational or transcultural imply a transposition of a narrative to a different geographical location, in the case of the former, or in a different cultural setting, for the latter. To perform in a transnational or transcultural context is to put into a physico-sensory medium such as theatre, film, or television, a narrative that was originally intended for a different audience. Similarly, to adapt a narrative transnationally or transculturally is to transform its message and relocate it to better suit the tastes of a foreign audience. 

On the topic of performance, Richard Schechner writes that “[t]he list of cross-referencing among the arts of various cultures could be extended without limit. Many innovators since World War II (a great war for travel) have been decisively influenced by work from cultures other than their own. This means, for western artists, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. The impact of communal-collective forms on contemporary western theater is like the impact of classical forms on the Renaissance'' (144). However, this idea is not limited to theatre; in fact, the act of ‘cross-referencing’ cultural elements from one context to the next can be applied to literature and media as a whole. Furthermore, the inspiration drawn from other cultures not only affects visual and auditory performances, but also the adaptation of works from one medium into another. For Linda Hutcheon, “adaptation is a form of intertextuality” (8) and, as Margarida Esteves Pereira notes, “[t]he inter-textual approach, described by both Hutcheon and [Robert] Stam, redirects our interest in adaptations from the ‘fidelity’ type of comparative analysis towards a framework where an adaptation, as a cultural product, is seen as a text in its own right” (425). If this is to be accepted, then the source material and the adapted outcome can be considered as separate works of art. 

How, then, does adaptation affect transformations of art? As globalization and commodification encourage the production of media that ‘follows the times’ and enact resistance from those devoted to the original work, how then might we read adaptation and transnational performance; as resistance or pliability?  

With these ideas in mind, this journal issue seeks to explore the precarious balance between appropriation and appreciation, sought-after representation and ‘faithfulness’ to the source material, and, in a more general sense, what constitutes a good or a bad performance or adaptation. 

Possible topics of discussion for this issue include, but are not limited to: 

  1. Globalization and/or commodification of art
  2. Appropriation and assimilation of cultural elements
  3. Commercialism, consumerism, and capitalism
  4. Cultural and popular studies
  5. Opposite adaptation (transformations from the visual to the textual)
  6. Legitimacy of claims regarding ownership of a cultural element
  7. Political polemics of contemporary performance and adaptation

The Harbour Journal is looking for full article submissions of up to 4500 to 6000 words in Performance and Adaptation studies, Popular and Cultural studies, literature, new media, theatre, Film and Television studies, and more. Please send your full work with a set of keywords to theharboureditors@gmail.com by November 30th, 2022.


Works Cited:

Esteves Pereira, Margarida. "Transnational Adaptations: The Nineteenth-Century Novel Revisited through a Transcultural Lens". Volume 5 Dialogues between Media, edited by Paul Ferstl, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2021, pp. 423-434. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110642056-033

Hutcheon, Linda. A Theory of Adaptation. New York, Routledge, 2006.

Schechner, Richard. Performance Theory. 2 ed., New York, Routledge, 2004.