EVENT Mar 07
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Animated Adaptations (NeMLA)

Organization: NEMLA
Event: NeMLA
Categories: Comparative, Interdisciplinary, Genre & Form, Popular Culture, Adventure & Travel Writing, Children's Literature, Comics & Graphic Novels, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy
Event Date: 2024-03-07 Abstract Due: 2023-09-30

Noticing a lack of interest in animated adaptations, Paul Welles offers to “acknowledge its ability to actually encompass the widest vocabulary of aesthetic and technical expression, and notionally its great capacity to accommodate the broadest range of literary suggestion” (1999, p. 200). Most animations currently being produced are indeed the result of an adaptative process – literary inspiration is evidently at stake for a large majority of Japanese anime but also for mass-producing studios like Disney (Pinocchio (1940), Peter Pan (1953), The Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Little Mermaid (1989), to name only a few) or DreamWorks (Shrek (2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010), How to Train your Dragon (2010) or The Bad Guys (2022)) – a fact which appears even more relevant when one considers that “animation may be viewed as a film form which finally liberates text/screen debates from the preoccupation with issues about realism” (Welles, 1999, p. 200).

Capable of generating the most creative universes and characters, although inspired by the reading of the source text (be it a novel, a fairy tale, a novella, a play or a comics), animated adaptation is doted with a language that engenders a unique kind of adaptation, as its qualities “are those which incorporate the hybridity, instability and mutability of the perception of textual allusion” (Welles, 1999, p. 201). On this point, Marina Warner describes, in From the Beast to the Blond: On Fairytales and their Tellers, how important metamorphosis is for fairy tales, a pattern that is ideally transformed thanks to the animated form of a movie: « Shape-shifting is one of fairy-tale’s dominant and characteristic wonders (…). More so than the presence of fairies, the moral function, the imagined antiquities and oral anonymity of the ultimate source, and the happy-ending (…) metamorphosis defines the fairy-tale” (1994, xv-xvi).

In this panel, we would like to investigate the relation created between animated adaptations and their source texts, highlight the advantages and risks of such adaptations while embracing their variety (stop-motion, 2D or 3D), and facilitate an intermedial discussion on adaptation. The debate on the subject is very recent and timid, and a session discussing this immense corpus would be of interest, we hope, for researchers in media studies, intermediality, film and adaptation studies.

Please upload your abstract directly to the NEMLA website: https://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention.html 



Boguszak, Jakub, “The Poetics of Shakespearean Animation”, Shakespeare Bulletin, vol. 32, n° 2, Summer 2014, pp. 159-183.

Cartmell, Deborah, “Adapting Children’s Literature”, The Cambridge Companion to Literature on Screen, Deborah Cartmell and Imelda Whelehan (eds.), Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 167-180.

Eliott, Kamilla, “Literary Film Adaptation and the Form/Content Dilemma”, Narrative Accross Media: The Languages of Storytelling, Lincoln&London: University of Nebraska Press, 2004, pp. 220-243.

Rall, Hannes, Adaptation for Animation – Transforming Literature Frame by Frame, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020.

Sanders, Julie, Adaptation and Appropriation, London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

Warner, Marina, From the Beast to the Blond: On Fairytales and their Tellers, London: Chatto and Windus, 1994.

Welles, Paul, “‘Thou art Translated’: Analysing Animated Adaptation”, Adaptation – From Text to Screen, Screen to Text, Deborah Cartmell and Imelda Whelehan (eds.), Longond and New York: Routledge, 1999, pp. 199-213.


Marie Pascal