Kate Griffiths (Cardiff University) will be presenting her paper, ‘Multimedia Adaptations of the 19th-Century Novel: Zola’s Thérèse Raquin’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 9 December 2014. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 0.36.
To read Zola is to engage with the art of adaptation in two key respects. The texts of this now-canonical nineteenth-century French naturalist writer have been worked and re-worked across time, media and nations since, and even at times before, their publication. Adaptation, though, is not just a process external or subsequent to Zola’s texts. Rather, it is a part of their lifeblood as Zola fashions his original novels from the adapted textual matter of other moments and media. These reconfigurations of and in Zola make him a powerful test case for adaptation studies as a whole. The discipline, despite the sophistication of a whole host of intertextually inspired adaptation theorists, continues to be dominated in practice by the direct transfer model. This model triggers analyses which seek only the original text, a work conceived of as a sealed point of origin, in the replicatory and somehow always inferior reproductions of it. But Zola’s novels do not fit the direct transfer model for they self-consciously locate their origin in a shifting range of earlier sources. Zola adapts music, opera, painting, theatre and statuary in his novels, implicitly encouraging adaptation studies to move beyond its obsession with cinema and theatre and be comparably inter-medial in its approach. While critics have left configurations of Zola’s texts in BBC television almost entirely unexplored and those in BBC radio completely untouched, these media provide something of a natural home for Zola. They bring us closer to his conceptualisation of authorship, to his belief that in cross media adaptation true originality may be found.
About the speaker
Kate Griffiths is Senior Lecturer in French at Cardiff University. Her research focuses on the translation of canonical texts across time, media and language. It explores the adaptation of French works into different national contexts/ forms/tongues and the reworking of other foreign sources for the French cultural market. She is the author of numerous articles on French literature and culture, including Emile Zola and the Artistry of Adaptation (2009) and (with Andrew Watts) Adapting Nineteenth-Century France: Literature in Film, Theatre, Television, Radio and Print (2013), as well as three edited collections. She is currently completing a project entitled ‘Emile Zola on Radio and Television’, which has two specific outputs: a book on French, British and North American television adaptations of Zola’s novels; and a web resource relating to British and French radio adaptations of Zola’s work.