Descriptive Adaptation Studies

Descriptive Adaptation Studies. Epistemological and Methodological Issues

Patrick Cattrysse

2014, Garant Publishers, Antwerpen-Apeldoorn


It is common practice nowadays for adaptation critics to denounce the lack of meta-theoretical thinking in adaptation studies and to plead for a study of ‘adaptation-as-adaptation’; one that eschews value judgments, steps beyond normative fidelity-based discourse, examines adaptation from an intertextual perspective, and abandons the single source model for a multiple source model. This study looks into a research program that does all that and more. It was developed in the late 1980s and presented in the early 1990s as a ‘polysystem’ (PS) study of adaptations.

Since then, the PS label has been replaced with ‘descriptive’. This book studies the question of whether and how a PS approach could evolve into a descriptive adaptation studies (DAS) approach. Although not perfect (no method is), DAS offers a number of assets. Apart from dealing with the above-mentioned issues, DAS transcends an Auteurist approach and looks at explanation beyond the level of individual agency (even if con­textuali­zed). As an alternative to the endless accumulation of ad hoc case studies, it suggests corpus-based research into wider trends of adaptational behavior and the roles and functions of sets of adaptations. DAS also allows reflection upon its own epistemic values. It sheds new light on some old issues: How can one define adaptation? What does it mean to study adaptation-as-adaptation? Is equivalence still possible and is the concept still relevant? DAS also tackles some deeper epistemological issues: How can phenomena be compared? Why would difference be more real than sameness or change more real than stasis? How does description relate to evaluation, explanation and prediction, etc.?

This book addresses both theory-minded scholars who are interested in epistemo­lo­gical reflection and practice-oriented adaptation students who want to get started. From a theoretical point of view, it discusses arguments that could support the legitimacy of adaptation studies as an academic discipline. From a practical point of view, it explains in general terms on ways of conducting an adaptation study.

Nieuw Boek: Transcultural Screenwriting: Telling Stories for a Global World

2017, Brenes, Carmen Sofia, Cattrysse Patrick and Margaret McVeigh (eds.), Transcultural Screenwriting: Telling Stories for a Global World, London, Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Lees meer:

The world we live and work in today has created new working conditions where storytellers, screenwriters and filmmakers collaborate with colleagues from other countries and cultures. This involves new challenges regarding the practice of transcultural screenwriting and the study of writing screenplays in a multi-cultural environment. Globalization and its imperatives have seen the film co-production emerge as a means of sharing production costs and creating stories that reach transnational audiences.

Transcultural Screenwriting: Telling Stories for a Global World provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of screenwriting as a creative process by integrating the fields of film and TV production studies, screenwriting studies, narrative studies, rhetorics, transnational cinema studies, and intercultural communication studies. This book applies the emerging theoretical lens of ‘transcultural studies’ to open new perspectives in the debate around notions of transnationalism, imperialism and globalisation, to build stronger links across academic disciplines, and to create new areas for consideration particularly in the screenwriting context.

This reader combines methods for studying as well as methods for doing. It draws on case studies and testimonials from writers from all over the globe including South America, Europe and Asia.

Transcultural Screenwriting: Telling Stories for a Global World is characterized by its scope, broad relevance, and emphasis on key aspects of screenwriting in an international environment.

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De Vlaamse Script Academie vzw (VSA) organiseert workshops, seminars en onderzoek met het oog op een permanente verbetering van het schrijven en lezen van verhalen.


p/a Dr. Patrick Cattrysse
Raamlolaan 3
B-3120 Tremelo


T: +32 – (0)16/ 29 95 93
M: +32 – (0)478/ 75 45 70

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