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Free Content Fabricated evidence: Exploring authenticity in a murder mystery’s appropriation of Early Modern drama

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This article considers instances of scriptwriters (and the protagonist they create) playing with notions of authenticity and revenge tragedy through an episode of the popular murder mystery series Lewis (ITV1, 2011). Parallels between, diversions from and references to the characters, plot structure and setting of Early Modern drama are carefully traced through ‘Wild Justice’. The article argues that authenticity is both established and, to some extent, betrayed by the episode. Its scriptwriter, Stephen Churchett, uses and reinforces Early Modern drama’s cultural and literary value, without being constrained by it. Additionally, by exploring the way in which the programme incorporates the literary into the non-literary, the article extends existing arguments for a positive reconsideration of the sometime-maligned detective genre. Specifically, it adds to previous research arguing that the genre can be regarded as a key source, particularly among television broadcasts and popular fiction, evidencing the continuing cultural value of Early Modern drama.
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Keywords: Early Modern; Renaissance; Shakespeare; appropriation; drama; television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of York

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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  • 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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