Introduction: Temporalities of Adaptation

  • Andrew James Johnston
  • Margitta Rouse
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This collection of articles is concerned with the intersection of medieval film studies and adaptation theory. Both fields, medieval film studies and adaptation studies, are among the most rapidly expanding subdisciplines of an interdisciplinary mix within the humanities: of film studies, literary studies, cultural studies, history, musicology, art history, theater studies, to name only a few. Within the last six to seven years the number of publications in both fields has exploded, as has the sophistication of their approaches,1 and it is high time to assess the kinds of questions, problems, and issues that link both fields in order to gauge ways in which advances in one may be put to productive use in the other.


Adaptation Study Film Adaptation Film Study Sixth Sense Medieval Literature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    To name only a few examples of books on medieval film: Bettina Bildhauer, Filming the Middle Ages (London: Reaktion, 2011);Google Scholar
  2. Richard Burt, Medieval and Early Modern Film and Media (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010);Google Scholar
  3. Kathleen Coyne Kelly and Tison Pugh, eds., Queer Movie Medievalisms (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2009);Google Scholar
  4. Anke Bernau and Bettina Bildhauer, eds., Medieval Film (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009);Google Scholar
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  8. Nickolas Haydock and Edward L. Risden, eds., Hollywood in the Holy Land: The Fearful Symmetries of Movie Medievalism (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009). The advent of adaptation studies is marked especially in that Oxford University Press has dedicated a new journal, Adaptation, entirely to the subject; important recent monographs include:Google Scholar
  9. Sarah Cardwell, Adaptation Revisited: Television and the Classic Novel (Manchester : Manchester University Press, 2002);Google Scholar
  10. Simone Murray, The Adaptation Industry: The Cultural Economy of Contemporary Literary Adaptation (New York: Routledge, 2011);Google Scholar
  11. Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Adaptation, with revised edition epilogue by Siobban O’Flynn, 2nd revised edn. (London: Routledge, 2013).Google Scholar
  12. 2.
    For a recent account of how the issue of accuracy matters for discussions of medieval film see Bettina Bildhauer, Filming the Middle Ages (London: Reaktion, 2011), pp. 18–22. Ironically, the most sophisticated recent studies of medieval film all seem to find it necessary to begin their attempts at theorizing medieval film by first driving out the specter of historical accuracy in one way or the other.Google Scholar
  13. 3.
    Thomas Leitch, “Adaptation Studies at a Crossroads,” Adaptation 1.1 (2008): 65 [63–77].CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 5.
    Anke Bernau and Bettina Bildhauer, “Introduction: The A-chronology of Medieval Film,” in Medieval Film, ed. Anke Bernau and Bettina Bildhauer (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009), p. 2 [1–19].Google Scholar
  15. 7.
    See Andrew James Johnston, Performing the Middle Ages from Beowulf to Othello (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008), pp. 1–12.Google Scholar
  16. 8.
    To name only a few examples: James Simpson, The Oxford English Literary History Vol. 2: 1350 –1547: Reform and Cultural Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004);Google Scholar
  17. Kevin Pask, The Emergence of the English Author (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005);Google Scholar
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  22. Helen Cooper, Shakespeare and the Medieval World (London: Methuen, 2010);Google Scholar
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  24. 9.
    Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began (London: The Bodley Head, 2011), esp. p. 263.Google Scholar
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    Jack Goody, Renaissances: The One or the Many? (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 7–42.Google Scholar
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    Jeffrey J. Cohen, Medieval Identity Machines, Medieval Cultures 35 (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), p. 19.Google Scholar
  27. 12.
    Laura Mulvey, Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (London: Reaktion, 2006), p. 9.Google Scholar
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    For an especially sophisticated approach of this kind see Nickolas Haydock, Movie Medievalism: The Imaginary Middle Ages (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008), pp. 7–12.Google Scholar
  29. 20.
    In Cerquiglini’s eyes “medieval writing does not produce variants; it is var iance. The end less rewriting to which medieval textuality is subjected, the joyful appropriation of which it is the object, invites us to make a power fulhypo thesis: the variant is never punctual ” (Bernard Cerquiglini, In Praise of the Variant: A Critical History of Philology, trans. Betsy Wing [Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999], pp. 77–78).Google Scholar
  30. 22.
    Incisive critical remarks on Cerquiglini’s romantic-cum-postmodern apotheosis of the medieval manuscript are to be found in Richard Utz, “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth: A Short History of Chaucerphilologie in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century,” Philologie im Netz 21 (2002): 58 [54–62], available at: /p21t4.htm.Google Scholar
  31. 24.
    Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility,” in The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Brigid Doherty and Thomas Y. Levin (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008), pp. 19–55.Google Scholar
  32. 25.
    Margitta Rouse, “‘Hit Men on Holiday get All Medieval’: Multiple Temporalities and Media Theory in Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges,” in Medievalism, ed. Ute Berns and Andrew James Johnston, special issue of European Journal of English Studies 15.2 (2011): 171–82.Google Scholar
  33. 27.
    For an important discussion of the ways in which Heidegger, Blumenberg, and Foucault all contributed to the philosophical underpinnings of this form of cultural history firmly grounded in the epistemologies and techniques of representation, see Andrew Cole and D. Vance Smith, “Outside Modernity,” in The Legitimacy of the Middle Ages: On the Unwritten History of Theory, ed. Andrew Cole and D. Vance Smith (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), pp. 2–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 28.
    Carolyn Dinshaw, “Temporalities,” in Middle English, ed. Paul Strohm (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 122 [107–23].Google Scholar
  35. 29.
    Doing Time is the title of Rita Felski’s investigation of the ways in which notions of time are central to constructions of gendered identities, which in turn lead to gendered perspectives on periodization. Rita Felski, Doing Time: Feminist Theory and Postmodern Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2000).Google Scholar

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© Andrew James Johnston, Margitta Rouse, and Philipp Hinz 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew James Johnston
  • Margitta Rouse

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