The Task of the Adaptation Critic

  • Glenn JellenikEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Adaptation and Visual Culture book series (PSADVC)


This essay argues that the adaptation critic must challenge vestigial Romanticism’s critical/cultural notions of “originality.” It is our job to use the cultural product of adaptation to systematically grapple with, develop, and flesh out what Tom Leitch refers to as “the thorny questions of just what constitutes originality.” That grappling begins with a systematic engagement with intertextuality. The essay inspects specific points of the intertextual cycle inaugurated by Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy (1925), including the novel, Sergei Eisenstein’s 1930 screenplay (endorsed by Dreiser and rejected by Paramount), the 1931 Paramount adaptation (over which Dreiser sued Paramount), George Stevens’s A Place in the Sun (1951), and Steve Erickson’s 2007 novel Zeroville, which uses Stevens’s movie as an organizing principle. That exploration fleshes out the ways intertexts weave and dovetail into one another and the cultures that produce and consume them, effectively reflecting post-modern concepts of originality.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Central ArkansasConwayUSA

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