When William Makepeace Thackeray included pictorial initials and drawings in his 1847 novel Vanity Fair, the author could hardly have anticipated the text’s adaptive afterlife in contemporary cinema. While scholars from Stam to Elliott have framed various approaches to the novel/film debate, scholarly attention towards the burgeoning genre of the Victorian cinematic novel has been underexplored. The recent tide of Victorian films, including Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes and Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre have offered modern viewers a cinematic privileging of canonic novels. This roundtable will examine through theoretical lenses the intersecting contact zones of culture, gender and empire as they appear both in texts and literary cinema. Participants will interrogate how feminist, queer and psychoanalytic theories—among others—frame critical interpretations of Victorian films. How do modern cinematic techniques enhance or degrade the film’s literary heritage? Participants will discuss how underrepresented discourses are represented in films, as well as explore how these films fare as either national cinema or transnational films. We will also consider how non-canonic texts have been staged in Victorian cinema.
This roundtable examines how Victorian texts have achieved an adaptive afterlife in contemporary cinema. Roundtable participants should examine through theoretical lenses one canonic or non-canonic Victorian text (domestic novel, historic, detective, romance, fin de siècle, etc.) and explore its adaptation into film. 500 word abstract/CV by 9/30 to Sophie Lavin, NeMLA Women’s Caucus Rep at: firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “NeMLA VLC submission.”
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