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Four Hairsprays, one Baltimore: The city in trans-medial adaptation

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By comparing John Waters’ 1988 film Hairspray with its adaptations narratologically, previous studies of the film have treated the process of adaptation as a zero-sum game that diminishes the political stakes with each iteration. With this article, I suggest that generic tools such as mise-en-scène and choreography have the capacity to transform discourses instead of merely supplanting them. To better understand the discursive spaces opened up by the trans-medial adaptation process, I read the opening scene of Waters’ film and its three subsequent adaptations as a discourse of the city, following Annette Insdorf’s assertion that a narrative’s first moments reflect significant thematic and aesthetic moves on the part of its creators.
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Keywords: Broadway; Hairspray; John Waters; adaptation; city; film

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2018

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