Adapting history: applying adaptation theory to historical film and television

PhD Thesis

Furze, N. 2020. Adapting history: applying adaptation theory to historical film and television . PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Media, Art and Design
AuthorsFurze, N.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctorate of Philsophy

This thesis argues that historical films and television programmes help generate new interpretations of the past, even when they depart from a common interpretation of how history is generally understood. In order to do this a variety of films and television programmes are analysed through the lens of adaptations studies. This thesis presents an analysis of current research in adaptation studies, alongside contemporary research into historical film. Four questions concerning historical adaptation are identified through which an original contribution to existing knowledge is made. These questions are:

a)To what extent is an adaptation’s presentation of the past aware of the context of the depicted historical events?
b) How can the addition of elements which were not present within the surviving sources, for example anachronisms, function within a historical adaptation?
c) How can an adaptation promote a new interpretation of the events which are the focus of the adaptation, as well as how those events relate to the present?
d) How can an adaptation be used to inform, critique, or aid in an audience’s understanding of history?

The ideas that emerge from a literature review are explored over the course of four separate, but interrelated, case studies. These case studies each focusing on a different aspect of historical adaptation. The results are then combined in the conclusion in order to create a cohesive, central argument about the potential benefits of historical adaptation in film and television.

KeywordsHistorical film and television; Adaptations studies ; Case studies
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Deposited27 Jul 2020
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