Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Particularly through their relation to ideology, crime narrative adaptations expose the conflict between individuals and communities on one side and the State on the other. Adaptations take the already defamiliarizing effect of narrative and continue to defamiliarize, creating a narrative cubist effect through various audiences and discursive orderings of events. Hence, they question the ideological prefiguring that lies at the foundation of narrative understanding. Insofar as ideologies are simplified ways to legitimate actions and project images of identity, the fact that a society’s narratives necessarily inherit ideology from the State obscures that society and State’s inevitable deviations from their self-images. Ideology misrepresents that which it attempts to legitimate. In order to critique ideological influence, the position from which total, reflective cultural study can extend is the vantage point that consistently and actively questions culture to its limits. It can only come from a position in which the audience’s freedom from domination is maximized. Cultural study and criticism thus arises most completely and honestly when it comes as close as it can from without ideology. By definition, the opposite of ideology is anarchy. In this dissertation I argue that adaptations channel a mechanism by which anarchist principles emerge from the ideological constraints obliged by the State’s pursuit of legitimacy—constraints which are inherent in all cultural narratives. Focusing on transatlantic “narrativizations” of crime events—different tellings of historical criminal events in view of American and European interaction—I demonstrate that adaptations, as dynamic systems of discourse, are self-driven toward anarchist critiques that splinter traditional Western ideologies. Overall, I make a three-part argument, first suggesting a method (based in complexity theory) for critical adaptation studies, then using that method to demonstrate how transatlantic America crime narrative adaptations reveal cultural identity struggles and necessarily tend toward anarchism, and lastly describing how the process of adaptation likewise reflects anarchist principles. Adaptation is anarchist. The anarchist method of adaptation study I propose will indicate 1) the degree to which American crime narrative adaptations stem from and contribute to various ideologies, and 2) how they can make clear those ideologies through necessary, consistent defamiliarization.
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Mecholsky, Kristopher, "Adaptation as Anarchist: A Complexity Method for Ideology-Critique of American Crime Narratives" (2012). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 3247.