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2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium-Keegan Williams-Thomas

Keegan Williams-Thomas “Cinematic Adaptations of Modernist Texts: Formal Re-experimentation in the Mid-20th Century”
Abstract
Film scholar Gilberto Perez argued that difficulties in cinematic adaptation emerge because modernist culture and literature emphasize an inherent tension in film, between its reflective nature (representation) and creative nature (imagination). This project looks at the 1967 adaptation of Ulysses, a 1969 adaptation of “The Reivers”, the 1971 adaptation of “Death in Venice” and a 1983 made-for-television adaptation of “To The Lighthouse”, focusing on what techniques were utilized by cinematic adapters to try to either accommodate the interiorization of narrative and experimentation with time in these works, or to restructure the basic plot or nature of the text in an effort to work around it. Looking at adaptations of a range of modernist writers (Joyce, Faulkner, Mann and Woolf), it is possible to identify an array of methods used in the filmmaking to replicate the elements of literary modernism which are often considered most difficult to portray on film. By studying efforts to bridge the exterior or voyeuristic aspects of film as a medium and the emphasized internal narrative complexity of Modernist novels, we can gain a better understanding of these mediums and these texts. Though this research examines direct correlations between text and film, the central focus is in new meanings and techniques which emerge in the transition from novel to feature film.

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