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Frida Hastrup

This article analyzes local concerns with nature and natural changes in response to the tsunami of 2004 based on anthropological fieldwork in the South Indian fishing village of Tharangambadi. It explores the fishermen's effort to restore confidence in their environment after the disaster, and argues that this entails a subtle strategy of relating to climate and weather that aims at gradually transferring the rupture of the tsunami to a more manageable pattern of seasonal variation. In analytical terms, the article investigates how the fishermen work to reassert their subjectivity in the aftermath of the overwhelming disaster through operating with different perspectives on their environment. In conclusion, the article suggests that these shifting perspectives more generally reflect notions of different intensities of change and creative local modes of adaptation ensuing from a disruption like the tsunami.

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Özlem Özmen

Julia Pascal’s The Yiddish Queen Lear, a dramatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, merges racial identity politics with gender politics as the play both traces the history of the Yiddish theatre and offers a feminist criticism of Shakespeare’s text. The use of Lear as a source text for a play about Jews illustrates that contemporary Jewish engagements with Shakespeare are more varied than reinterpretations of The Merchant of Venice. Identity politics are employed in Pascal’s manifestation of the problematic relationship between Lear and his daughters in the form of a conflict between the play’s protagonist Esther, who struggles to preserve the tradition of the Yiddish theatre, and her daughters who prefer the American cabaret. Gender politics are also portrayed with Pascal’s use of a strong woman protagonist, which contributes to the feminist criticism of Lear as well as subverting the stereotypical representation of the domestic Jewish female figure in other dramatic texts.

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A French Comic Version of an Argentinian Fantastic Narrative

Jean Pierre Mourey's L'Invention de Morel

Matthias Hausmann

In 1940, Adolfo Bioy Casares published La Invención de Morel [The Invention of Morel], a novel that can be considered as one of the most important works of twentieth-century Argentinian fantastic narrative. Since the novel portrays competition between different media, it is not surprising that this work has been adapted to several other media: visual arts, plays, opera, and several feature films, the first and still the best known being L'Année dernière à Marienbad [Last year in Marienbad] (1961). The latest incarnation of La Invención de Morel is the first comic version, created by Jean Pierre Mourey (2007). This article discusses Mourey's adaptation of the novel and the specific possibilities of the comic genre. Special attention will be paid to the conception of time, the manipulation of various media, and the competition between the written word and images which are at the heart of Bioy's novel, and the extent to which the French cartoonist's rendering of these aspects of the work is successful.

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Norman N. Holland

Metafictions tell stories in which the physical medium of the story becomes part of the story as, classically, in Tristram Shandy or Don Quixote. In our times, both metafiction and metafilm have proliferated. Examples of metafilm include Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr., Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo, Alejandro Amenábar's Abre los Ojos, Ingmar Bergman's Persona, the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers and, in particular, Spike Jonze's Adaptation. In my experience and that of others, metafilmic movies have a peculiarly disconcerting effect, sometimes arousing fear, sometimes seeming comic. Why? Metafilms play tricks on the levels and kinds of our belief (or our suspension of disbelief). To explain the effect, we need to understand how our brains are functioning when we are, as we say, "absorbed" in a film. The answer lies in the fact that reality testing depends on activity in the motor regions of the frontal cortex. But in experiencing the arts, we are not moving or even planning to move. As a result, as Richard Gerrig's experiments show, we momentarily believe (or suspend disbelief in) the film we are perceiving. Metafilm, however, introduces another, more real reality, the physical medium of the film. Metafilm thus sends conflicting messages to the brain about moving. The result is what Freud called "a signal of anxiety." If the metafilmic effect is brief, we laugh. If it persists over time, it can arouse anxiety.

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‘Abd al-Raḥīm Kamāl's Dahsha

An Upper Egyptian Lear

Noha Mohamad Mohamad Ibraheem

This article investigates the pivotal cultural and socio-political issues affecting Egyptian society that ‘Abd al-Raḥīm Kamāl, a young Egyptian scriptwriter, represents in his television series Dahsha (Perplexity, 2014). This Ṣaʿīdī (Upper Egyptian) adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear raises issues including widespread and grinding poverty, the marginalization of women, the stigma attached to illegitimate children, and the continuing dependence upon patriarchal leadership, with Egypt’s 2011 revolution hovering in the background. Kamāl’s divergences from Shakespeare’s play in terms of characterization and plot create a different, culturally oriented interpretation of Lear. The article also examines the effects of transposing Lear from the stage into a different medium – the television screen. Finally, it distinguishes between the two literary concepts of ‘adaptation’ and ‘proximization’ by analysing how Egyptian audiences and critics responded to the series.

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Post-socialism Meets Postcolonialism

African Migrants in the Russian Capital

Dmitri M. Bondarenko, Elena A. Googueva, Sergey N. Serov and Ekaterina V. Shakhbazyan

While Western Europe has a long history of facing and studying the issues of immigration, this phenomenon is still recent for the ex-socialist states and has not been studied sufficiently yet. At the same time, the 'closed' nature of the socialist societies and the difficulties of the 'transitional period' of the 1990s predetermine the problems in communication between the migrants and the population majority, the specific features of the forming diasporas and of their probable position in the receiving societies. The study of African migrants in Russia (particularly in Moscow) recently launched by the present authors consists of two interrelated parts: the sociocultural adaptation of migrants from Africa in Russia on the one hand, and the way they are perceived in Russia on the other. One of the key points of the study is the formation or non-formation of diasporas as network communities, as a means of both more successful adaptation and identity support.

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Masquerading Early Modern Disability

Sexuality, Violence, and the Body (Politic) in Richard III

Lauren Coker

Building on Katherine Schaap Williams’s (2009) reading of the play, this article uses a disability studies approach to consider Richard Loncraine’s 1995 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Loncraine’s adaptation allows modern-day viewers to experience a highly visual (and often intimate) exchange with Sir Ian McKellen as Richard Gloucester. Specifically, Gloucester’s verbal claims of a disability that renders him unsuitable as a leader and a lack of sexual prowess are juxtaposed alongside sexually violent visual actions and imagery—particularly in the form of phallic symbols. The juxtaposition of verbal passivity in opposition to visual aggression demonstrates how Richard showcases or hides his disability as he pursues the throne: the first half of the film features Richard masquerading ability, while the second half features him masquerading disability.

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The Merchant ON Venice [Boulevard, Los Angeles], Chicago, 2007

Universalizing Shakespeare’s Play after the Holocaust

Michael Shapiro

Productions, adaptations and spinoffs of The Merchant of Venice since 1945 generally employ one of four strategies: continuing, historicizing, decentring and universalizing. Continuing means following nineteenth-century English productions in making Shylock a sympathetic outsider. Immigrant Shylocks still appear on English-speaking stages, but often seem sentimentalized and anachronistic. Historicizing means making the play reflect historical circumstances, such as the Holocaust, so that Shylock, however sharp-edged, automatically attracts sympathy. Decentring means making Jessica’s story at least as important as Shylock’s. Many recent productions and prose adaptations explore Jessica’s plight as immigrant’s daughter, belle juive, forlorn wife or remorseful child. Universalizing means mapping the play’s Jewish-Christian conflict onto other racial, religious or ethnic antagonisms, as in The Merchant ON Venice, about a Muslim ‘Shylock’ and his Hindu neighbours in Los Angeles.

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Changing Paradigms

Flux and Stability in Past Environments

Liliana Janik

This article introduces and illustrates the need to reassess the way we conceive of human 'adaptation' to the natural environment. The primary case considered is the south-eastern Baltic Sea region during the mid-Holocene. The article argues for the importance of the notion of a metastable ecosystem in debate about climatic and environmental changes. Through a discussion of the culturally governed choices made by human communities in non-equilibrium ecosystems, we are able critically to examine highly influential theories of environmental determinism.

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Drawing the Written Woman

Philippe Druillet's Adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's Salammbô

Sonia Lagerwall

This article deals with Philippe Druillet's three-volume comic adaptation (1980–1985) of Salammbô, Gustave Flaubert's historical novel from 1862, set three centuries BC. Flaubert was famous for not wanting his texts illustrated: he argued that the preciseness of images would undo the poetic vagueness of his written words. The article examines how Druillet tackles the challenge of graphically representing Flaubert's canonical work without reducing the priestess Salammbô into a given type. The analysis shows a dynamic adaptation process in which Druillet gives a kaleidoscopic form to Flaubert's text. His variation on the Salammbô character foregrounds photography, a medium historically relevant to the novel but also to Druillet's own artistic training. Featuring his character Lone Sloane in the role of Mathô, the adaptation proves to be a highly personal appropriation of the novel, where Druillet enhances an autobiographical dimension of his work previously hinted at in La Nuit and Gaïl.