The theory of BADaptation

Authored by: Kamilla Elliott

The Routledge Companion To Adaptation

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138915404
eBook ISBN: 9781315690254
Adobe ISBN:


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BADaptation—a term coined by J. Kraus (2012: 258) and developed by Constantine Verevis (Verevis 2014: 216)—is a resonant portmanteau in adaptation studies. In 2010, Deborah Cartmell and Imelda Whelehan subtitled a book Impure Cinema “to call attention to the bad press that adaptations have received since the beginning of film’s history” (Cartmell and Whelehan 2010: 127). The rhetoric of BADaptation precedes cinema: describing an 1838 stage play of Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens the Younger decrees it the worst in “the very long list of bad adaptations of popular stories” (Dickens 1892: xxvii); decades earlier, a periodical reviewer addresses “the bad adaptation of hymns to tunes” (anon 1856: 98) and a letter to The Players, a nineteenth-century penny British theatrical journal, declares: “that our stage should become the receptacle for bad adaptations of immoral French buffoonery, we feel a national degradation” (anon. 1860: 2). While Verevis defines “ ‘BADaptation’ [as] a concept employed to engage with and challenge those approaches to adaptation and remaking that routinely employ a rhetoric of betrayal and degradation, of ‘infidelity’ to some idealized original” (Verevis 2014: 216), these examples make clear that adaptations have been dubbed bad (as well as many synonyms for bad) for violating moral and national ideologies as well as theories of ideal originals.

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