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September 07 , 2007

The Adaptation Industry

The Cultural Economy of Contemporary Literary Adaptation


Adaptation constitutes the driving force of contemporary culture, with stories adapted across an array of media formats. However, adaptation studies has been concerned almost exclusively with textual analysis, in particular with compare-and-contrast studies of individual novel and film pairings. This has left almost completely unexamined crucial questions of how adaptations come to be made, what are the industries with the greatest stake in making them, and who the decision-makers are in the adaptation process. The Adaptation Industry re-imagines adaptation not as an abstract process, but as a material industry. It presents the adaptation industry as a cultural economy of six interlocking institutions, stakeholders and decision-makers all engaged in the actual business of adapting texts: authors; agents; publishers; book prize committees; scriptwriters; and screen producers and distributors. Through trading in intellectual property rights to cultural works, these six nodal points in the adaptation network are tightly interlinked, with success for one party potentially auguring for success in other spheres. But marked rivalries between these institutional forces also exist, with competition characterizing every aspect of the adaptation process. This book constructs an overdue sociology of contemporary literary adaptation, never losing sight of the material and institutional dimensions of this powerful process.

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