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Project: Gender Aspects of Screen Adaptations of the British Nineteenth-Century Female Literary Canon

Contemporary popular culture is increasingly reliant on adaptation and other derivative types of cultural texts such as sequels, retellings, and pastiche. It seems therefore especially vital to study the continued appeal of canonical literature and analyse the ways in which canonical texts render themselves to adaptation, reimagining and reinvention.

Project information

Type of Project
Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship
Dr. Anna Gutowska
Time Frame
October 2017–September 2019
Funding organisation
MSCA, European Commission

More about the project

The overall aim of the project is to analyse the gendered aspects of British and American screen adaptations of selected nineteenth century novels written by women. The project aims to study screen adaptations of novels by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot, released between 1990 and 2010, which are internationally known and became parts of the collective cultural experience, influencing the popular perception of European nineteenth-century culture and the position of women within that culture.

The project will study the motivations of the adaptation authors (directors, screen writers etc.) and their perceptions of the original writers, revealed in interviews, DVD commentaries and other ancillary materials. It will also analyse the nature of "novel to film" changes, paying special attention to the portrayal of female characters and the issues of women's agency and empowerment. Furthermore it will study the role of the visual elements, e.g. costumes, production design, cinematography and editing in the portrayal of female characters. Finally, it will look into the reception of the selected adaptations and into the ways in which the adaptations function in the cultural debate.
The project is interdisciplinary in nature, aiming to use in a complementary way the perspectives of adaptation studies, gender studies, reception studies and film studies. Its expected impact is to offer a comprehensive analysis of the issues of women's agency and empowerment in the selected adaptations and to study the influence of these adaptations on the audiences' perception of the nineteenth-century culture.

The project will be based at Linnaeus University's Institute of Transmedial and Multimodal Studies, where it will be supervised by Professor Lars Elleström, and will also include a secondment at the Institute of Screen Industries Research at the University of Nottingham. The secondment supervisor will be Professor Roberta Pearson.

The project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No H2020-MSCA-IF-2016-750690.

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