Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Much of adaptation theory calls for a shift away from fidelity discourse, arguing that an adaptation does not need to be a faithful translation of the original, but should rather be viewed as literature in its own right. As such, adaptations are often studied separately from their source texts; yet even so, an unofficial hierarchy sometimes remains in deeming some types of adaptations more ripe for study than others. Further, in separating the adaptation from the original, some of the more radical alterations can be routinely dismissed as an “added” element to the text, rather than exploring what commentary these changes might be making on the source. Using Viktor Shklovsky’s theory of estrangement, I examine how seemingly aberrant divergences from the source act as riddles which defamiliarize these elements of the narrative and invite a closer look at how/why these changes have been made. In doing so, I argue the adaptation and the original must be studied together, not to establish a hierarchy of better or worse, but to highlight the dialogue already happening between the two, and to invite further participation from the reader/viewer. In Jane Austen’s Hidden Bodies: Adaptation as Critical Commentary, I focus on Austen adaptations, and in particular, the bodies within these adaptations, to investigate how portrayals of physicality are often made strange. From fetishizing a body to showcase the dominance of the female perspective, to deforming a body to indicate generic fragmentation; from doubling figures to show the clash of ideas over authorial intent to subsuming them to indicate classed, raced, and gendered transgressions, Austen adaptations defamiliarize characters, plot lines, and themes to keep them from becoming buried in well-known narratives, and to bring hidden bodies, interpretations, and possibilities to light.



Committee Chair

Weltman, Sharon

Available for download on Monday, May 19, 2025