Adaptation and Appropriation (The New Critical Idiom) by Julie Sanders

By Julie Sanders

The recent serious Idiom sequence make for nice partners to classes. Sanders' model and Appropriation is a compact, transparent, usable textbook that cuts during the muddy water of severe debates on precisely what these phrases (and a bunch of alternative comparable phrases) suggest.

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Additional info for Adaptation and Appropriation (The New Critical Idiom)

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This chapter aims to unpack some of the diverse modes and operations of appropriation. To ease discussion, the examples have been divided into two broad categories: embedded texts and sustained appropriations. what is appropriation? EMBEDDED TEXTS AND INTERPLAY The stage and film musical has already been cited as an inherently adaptational form, often reworking canonical plays, poems, and novels into a mode that deploys song and dance to deliver its narrative. West Side Story and Kiss Me Kate, two previously mentioned Shakespeare-informed musicals, are interesting examples of the practice since they go one stage further than the generic adaptation involved in making Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables or George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion into a musicallybased performance.

There are obvious, hilarious ways in which their offstage temperaments mirror their onstage performances; Lilli Vanessi, for example, is outspoken and hotheaded in a manner akin to her character Katherina. While the musical’s untroubled manifestations of early twentieth-century US sexual politics, including the beatings and confinements visited upon the forceful Lilli, may no longer seem so amusing in an era alert to domestic violence, the point remains that Kiss Me Kate is both adaptation and appropriation at the same time.

This is adaptation, then, but it is adaptation in another mode. West Side Story can and does stand alone as a musical in its own right, without need of the Romeo and Juliet connection, although I would still maintain that for audiences of the musical an intertextual awareness deepens and enriches the range of possible responses. Lyrics such as ‘There’s a place for us’ undoubtedly return us to issues of spatial confinement in the original play; and the Jets’ much reiterated gang tag ‘Womb to Tomb’ evokes the tragic confinement of possibility for the play’s young protagonists whose love is consummated only in the face of death and ultimately, literally, in the encasement of the Capulet family tomb.

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