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Metadaptation: Adaptation and Intermediality Cock and Bull

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This article explores the usefulness of the term intermediality to account for hybrid intermedia and interart practices at the core of adaptation. Engaging with A Cock and Bull Story (2005), Michael Winterbottom's film adaptation based on Sterne's Tristram Shandy (175967), the analysis skirts the difficulties signaled by the terms fidelity, literature, taxonomy, and evaluation. Instead, the paper's method is based on isolating the levels of mediality, transmediality and intermediality. It holds that Winterbottom's film adaptation of a foundational metafiction lays bare the specific mediality not only of literature and film. The movie's system contamination is focused on the in-between process of adaptation. It follows that metadaptations (i.e., texts that foreground their own adaptive processes) constitute a heuristically rich subgenre among adaptations.

Keywords: A Cock and Bull Story; Laurence Sterne; Michael Winterbottom; Tristram Shandy; intermediality; metafiction

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Siegen.

Publication date: 2009-09-01

More about this publication?
  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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