Contextualizing History-as-Adaptation: An Interdisciplinary Comparison of Historical Revisionism

Contextualizing History-as-Adaptation: An Interdisciplinary Comparison of Historical Revisionism Abstract The return to history in the humanities during the 1980s prompted literary and film scholars to question historiography’s empirical scientific status, as they instead argued that history shared more in common with fiction while their own fields of study provided means of democratizing the historical record. The concept of history-as-adaptation, recently introduced by Laurence Raw and Defne Ersin Tutan, and further developed by Tom Leitch, draws upon several of the same goals as these earlier revisionist critiques. This article contextualizes how external revision of history has been used by disciplines as a means of solidifying their own identities, despite the fact that history departments have not responded to such criticism. Through a cross-disciplinary analysis of the postmodern interrogation of historical claims, I seek to not only contextualize the adaptive turn but also demonstrate how the field’s comparative identity provides a means of transcending oppositional discourse. Drawing on the work of Robert Berkhofer, I establish a supplemental interpretation of history-as-adaptation, demonstrating the advantages of applying adaptive strategies to the documentary framework at the heart of historical methodology. Adaptation, film, history, literature, postmodernism, revision The 1980s witnessed a (re)turn to history in the humanities and social sciences, as disciplines that had contributed during the 1970s to the separation of cultural history from social history—including anthropology and literary studies—began to borrow back methodology.1 Now armed with the epistemological scepticism of poststructural theories, however, scholars in the humanities not only focussed on historicizing their own disciplines, but they also took the opportunity to interrogate the practice of so-called traditional history, presenting their own areas of study as viable alternatives. Thus under the aegis of postmodern criticism, multiple literary scholars in the 1980s posited that history was more akin to fiction than the empirical scientific model its exponents frequently presumed. In opposition to the ‘dominant discourse’ of professional historians, these scholars contended that experimental literature was more capable of representing historically marginalized groups whose stories were absent from the official record. Beginning in the 1990s, film studies also sought to legitimize the role of film in historical documentation by subverting the primacy of writing as a form of documentation. In both cases, critiquing the construction of the past ironically served to secure the future of these outside disciplines as they sought to reorient themselves at key political junctures. With Laurence Raw and Defne Ersin Tutan’s (2013) recent invitation to consider history as a form of adaptation (which has been further explored by Tom Leitch), adaptation studies has become the most recent field to proffer its own subject of study as a means of reconceiving academic control over the creation of historical meaning. The question of history has been central to the discipline from the beginning, for in the most basic media context, the relationship presupposed between source and target texts is temporal. Using a new medium to establish something new in relation to a previous text creates a new history in the process (Scholz 10). In practice, this two-way relationship is complex and must therefore be examined through the distinct historical moments related to its production, reproduction, and interpretation. As Anne-Marie Scholz has argued in her analysis of the past via reception studies, film adaptations should themselves be approached as historical events, not mere re-enactments of cultural texts.2 Tutan and Raw are certainly not the first to view adaptation and history through a postmodern lens. While much adaptation theory has explored the past in the sense of creatively resituating historical settings from film and drama,3 the collective work of Deborah Cartmell, I.Q. Hunter, Heidi Kaye, and Imelda Whelehan during the 1990s introduced another means through which film adaptations could engage history, namely postmodern commentary upon historical processes. Thus, self-reflexive feature films were revealed to thematize how history is uncritically consumed in a mass cultural context (Hunter) as well as provide a feminist response to Fredric Jameson’s postmodern critique of ‘nostalgia’ films (Cartmell et al.). As a form of ‘retrovision’, contemporary cinema about the Renaissance could even act subversively to demythologize romanticized notions of the past held in the popular imaginary (Cartmell et al. 2). The above does not represent a complete account of the postmodern response, yet it does suggest that despite conceptualizing adaptation as ‘transformation’ of the past (Gauthier), such investigations view history as a largely stable category in which some form of truth can be ascertained (or misinterpreted) through fictional representations. If such interventions establish adaptation itself as a form of history, Raw and Tutan radically reverse the equation to instead posit history as a form of adaptation with the result of destabilizing the epistemology of historical studies. In addition to drawing inspiration from poststructural theory, the co-editors provocatively ‘propose that all historical documents be treated as adaptations’ (10, emphasis in original), their stance indicative of increasing dissent with narrow prescriptions of intermedial transformation as consisting fundamentally of cinematic transposition of literary texts. This bold claim not only expands adaptation’s domain of influence, but it also threatens the very identity of historiography, whose dependence on a documentary model is one of the reasons that postmodern theory has had less traction in comparison to other fields of study (Thompson 122). The purpose of this paper is neither to provide a detailed overview of the long relationship between adaptation and history, nor to promote the validity of postmodern approaches to the past. Instead, it specifically takes as its subject the concept of history-as-adaptation and examines it within the interdisciplinary context of literary and film studies, two fields that have not only shaped contemporary adaptation studies but also previously rehearsed the subversion of history. First, in addition to contextualizing the historical revisionist impulse, this comparison highlights analogous disciplinary objectives that exist despite differences in terminology and methodology. Accordingly, whereas literary postmodern responses have pushed back against empirical assumptions that art should accurately reflect documented history, the correlative within adaptation theory is resistance against the essentialism of fidelity discourse. In both examples, scholars have replaced a narrative of loss of originality with an exploration of what is gained through processes of transformation. As a means of narrowing my scope, the resulting overview focusses on the first theorists in their respective fields to blend history and disciplinary subversion, not with the intent of legitimizing their particular brands of postmodern thought, but rather to chart the degree of overlap in their critical claims. Next, I examine the theories underlying history-as-adaptation, both as a means of demonstrating continuity with the previous examples but also to explore important differences, for examination of earlier models of revisionism provides a means of avoiding the same resistance. Censure of ‘traditional’ historiography, for example, has had a much greater impact upon the external fields making claims than upon historiography departments themselves, where literary theorists’ rhetoric of rupture is downplayed because they often have little training in actual historiographic methodology.4 This observation of competing disciplinary terminology provides the basis for drawing attention to adaptation’s unique interdisciplinarity, and I conclude by arguing that its practice provides the means for bridging the disciplinary gap in terms of critical acceptance within history departments. In order to do so, I will draw from a recent revisionist approach from within historiography to analyse how broadening what constitutes a documentary source in adaptive terms can prove a compelling means of updating the documentary model as well as revealing common ambitions with contemporary adaptation itself. POSTMODERN REVISION OF HISTORY IN LITERATURE AND CINEMA In order to examine the postmodern origins of historical revisionism, it will be necessary to first examine its practice within literary and cinematic spheres. It is important to note from the outset that revisionism in the postmodern sense is intended to either supplement the historical record through inclusion of silenced perspectives or displace official history altogether (Mchale 90). In ‘Adapting Cinema to History’ (2004), Dudley Andrew speculates on whether historical film fashions its source texts in the same way that literature does. As he notes, prejudice against film that tackles literary tradition limits its interpretation: ‘Often denigrated as a facile, mechanical, and inevitably compromised practice, the transformation of well-known sources into movies deserves the sustained attention recently given in literary scholarship to the longue durée of genres over the singular events of masterpieces’ (190). By ‘well-known sources’, Andrew means canonical literary texts and not archival documents, though a parallel bias has traditionally existed for historical literature through the obligation to adhere to professional historical accounts. During much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, merit was primarily gauged by an author’s adherence to secondary sources, while the role of imagination was tolerated only when filling in the dark spaces unaccounted for by the record. Literature was therefore itself not accepted as a source by scholars, and the rare instances in which historians considered fiction involved social realism. While this genre was deemed most likely to provide insight into the mentality of a particular time period, such assumptions downplayed the creative function of literature, making it redundant to other documentary sources (LaCapra 125). Rejecting the burden of accuracy, the revisionist literary reaction countered this perceived marginalization within historical methodology. Thus, two decades before Linda Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation (2006) helped to make the case for intermediality in the field, the Canadian critic published the companion literary manifestoes A Poetics of Postmodernism (1988) and The Politics of Postmodernism (1989). In much the same way that Hutcheon draws attention to the ‘double nature’ of adaptation as both autonomous and ‘palimpsestuous’ (Theory 6–7), she previously characterized postmodernism as double-coded, for it paradoxically works within the systems it attempts to subvert and is thus reliant upon the very conventions it exploits. Hutcheon coins the term ‘historiographic metafiction’ to define self-reflexive, iconoclastic literature that highlights how the discourses of history and fiction are equally human constructs (Poetics 5), claiming no less than that this self-theorizing genre is the paradigmatic form of cultural postmodernism. Building upon a corpus of experimental fiction spanning the previous two decades, Hutcheon’s scepticism of scientific discourses is designed to subvert historiography’s claims to objectively represent the past. Thus unlike historiography, historiographic metafiction openly celebrates its subjective and contingent status by drawing attention to its own construction. And unlike the ‘fidelity’ to documentary sources of traditional realism, self-reflexive literature purposefully distorts the historical record through the interrelated strategies of parody and intertextuality.5 Hutcheon stresses the seriousness of these tools by arguing that parody makes a political statement as a form of critical intertextuality, though this does not merely amount to caricature, but rather can also act as homage to the source historical or literary text. By claiming that the historical record has been constructed by dominant voices that silence the perspectives of minority groups—not ‘what’ history is told, but rather ‘whose’ (Poetics 90)—Hutcheon is able to posit historiographic metafiction as a more representative form of exploring the past. And taking issue with the common perception that history’s referents are real while fiction’s are imagined allows her to contend that postmodern works perform an important didactic function by virtue of intertextually revealing how both creative and ‘factual’ modes of representing the past ‘actually refer at the first level to other texts: we know the past (which really did exist) only through its textualized remains’ (119). Hutcheon has been criticized for not analysing the social and historical differences of the various regions she unites under the umbrella of historiographic metafiction. As a critical concept that assisted scholars in the struggle to foreground ethnic and gender issues during the 1990s, the strategy became enormously influential within literary departments, and by some accounts, it remains a primary form of literary historical revisionism in the twenty-first century.6 Nonetheless, while Hutcheon built on Hayden White’s claim that narrative history operated through literary conventions, few ‘conventional’ scholars were troubled by the threat that historical literature might pose to the primacy of historical documents. This is partially because literary antagonism failed to account for the fact that the cultural and linguistic turns had initiated similar disciplinary debates in academic history, resulting in the increasing adoption of anthropological and literary perspectives in cultural historiographic theory.7 In fact, during this same period, several ‘unconventional’ historians had begun experimenting with the writing and filming of historical narratives. Chief among them was Robert Rosenstone, whose interests turned to cinema after advising on the production of the film Reds (1981), for which his own biography Romantic Revolutionary (1975) served as a primary source. By the time that Hutcheon critiqued the field, Rosenstone had experimented in The Mirror in the Shrine (1988) with a nontraditional writing style, noting that his self-reflexive approach to the past bore similarities to cinematic montages that ‘will not shock any reader of modern novels, but may seem odd to some academic historians’ (xii). Several accounts exist regarding the gradual expansion of academic interest in history on film during the 1970s and 1980s,8 yet Rosenstone provided the seminal analyses of the possibilities for postmodern history in cinema studies. In his two blueprints for the field released in the same year, Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History (1995) and Revisioning History: Film and the Construction of a New Past (1995), he takes issue with scholars such as Hutcheon, not on the grounds of their postmodern claims, but rather because they cite a closed circuit of theorists while providing few, if any, examples of actual postmodern history. The reason is that there are not many such accounts, despite theoretical shifts that have made scholars aware of their contingency, academic history has maintained recognizable narrative forms out of necessity. Historical film, in contrast, increasingly represents a form that has encouraged postmodern experimentation. Nonetheless, despite disagreeing with Hutcheon’s gloss of theory, his objectives—counteracting the marginalization of feature films as historical evidence as well as cementing the status of film as a means of making ‘serious’ history—are contiguous with her own project. Indeed, the attributes of self-reflexive films he develops are analogous to her description of historiographic metafiction. Self-reflexive postmodern history films, for example, draw attention to the role of the filmmaker, incorporate multiple viewpoints, approach the past through parody, and both alter and invent events and historical actors (Visions 206–207). Unlike Hutcheon, however, Rosenstone’s goal is not to problematize the concept of historical knowledge, but rather to find novel or nonacademic ways to represent the past. Consequently, he touts the visual medium’s visceral capacity to create a more complete historical vision than can written monographs, and he considers certain filmmakers to be historians who meaningfully engage with historical concepts.9 Most importantly, the collective nature of filmmaking means that the concept of what constitutes history is democratized. As he puts it, ‘postmodern history is history that does not necessarily call itself History. It is history practiced by people who do not necessarily call themselves Historians with a capital H or even a little h’ (223). Rosenstone’s preoccupation is therefore not only with understanding the strategies employed by postmodern texts; it is also a critique of the way the discipline has presumed that films must be faithful to the written record, for the predominant approaches to history in film have undercut the agency of cinema to actively intervene in constructing history. This is evident in the ‘explicit’ approach, which treats films as social and political reflections of the eras in which they are made rather than viewing their content as a form of evidence. Conversely, the ‘implicit’ approach privileges written history, assuming that it inherently reproduces reality, and thus visual representations are always understood as partial or inferior. While not referring to adaptation, the language Rosenstone uses to describe this erroneous premise bears a striking resemblance to ‘fidelity discourse’, as it ‘essentially sees the picture as a book transferred to the screen, subject to the same sorts of judgments about data, verifiability, argument, evidence, and logic that we use for written history’ (48–9). Similarly, he rejects expectations for accurate visual representation as impractical, for film cannot be judged based on the same rules that inform written history.10 Indeed, in accord with adaptation theory’s insistence upon developing methodology appropriate to the medium, Rosenstone maintains that cinema has a language unique to its form that most historians have not been properly trained to read, which contributes to its continued misinterpretation as inferior to written scholarship. Experimental historical films can thus call attention to the limits of the written word through their focus upon representational processes. While Hutcheon’s brand of postmodern subversion is hardly likely to win large scale support from the so-called traditional historians whose work is called into question, Rosenstone not only works within the field but also employs less divisive discourse. He has thus been able to organize interdisciplinary collaborations with film scholars who have focussed on potential intersections rather than exclusions.11 And since Rosenstone first published on the topic, film about the past has increasingly gained acceptance as a viable source for historians, although still largely within the context of its perceived authenticity and quality of historical detail,12 while celebrations of inaccurate or ‘bad’ history tend to emerge from film studies.13 The compatibility of Hutcheon’s and Rosenstone’s emphases upon creative interpretation of the past therefore comes into focus despite their disciplinary differences. As the first scholars in their areas to specifically link up a postmodern scenario with the subversion of historiography, the timing of their interventions provides insight into their respective fields’ identities. By drawing upon a global canon of works, the lure during the 1980s of historiographic metafiction’s claim that literature demanded to be taken seriously lay in countering suggestions that postmodernism’s iconoclasm had little to meaningfully contribute to the debate regarding the relationship between the humanities and the sciences. During the culture wars of the 1990s, as historical experimentation became itself more prominent and varied in cinema, enough of an international canon had formed for Rosenstone to address the field as not only emergent, but also a viable alternative to institutional interpretation. In a constant state of self-examination, adaptation studies are now poised to appropriate history at another moment in which the humanities come under attack. REVISION IN HISTORY-AS-ADAPTATION AND HISTORIOGRAPHY The preceding section provided two examples of extra-disciplinary historical revisionism that could more accurately be labelled ‘history-as-literature’ and ‘history-as-film’, yet does the more recent theoretical shift in adaptation utilize the same organizing metaphor? The term ‘history-as-adaptation’ first appears in Tutan and Raw’s The Adaptation of History (2013), while Leitch’s essay expanding upon the concept leads off the collection The Politics of Adaptation (2015), an appropriate titular echo of Hutcheon’s The Politics of Postmodernism given the context. Although these publications coincide with renewed interest in the transformation of postmodern literature and film (Slethaug 2014), what separates this form of adaptive historicism from earlier engagements is its oppositional stance towards disciplinary insularity. Thus while both formulations have distinct emphases, a brief inspection initially suggests programmatic overlap with Hutcheon’s and Rosenstone’s arguments for creative confrontation of the past. Tutan and Raw, for example, explain their principal motivations behind organizing the collection as a response to the narrow focus of professional historians who either presume that any representation of former events must aspire to factuality or disregard nonacademic production—whether film, fiction, autobiography, or online blogs—as viable means of engaging and representing a bygone era.14 Taking issue with the trap of accuracy, the editors instead champion ‘individuals as creative talents who not only come to terms with the world around them, but possess the capacity to transform that world through experimental behavior’ (11, my emphasis). Not only does this concept of adaptation react on similar grounds of disciplinary marginalization to Hutcheon, but it also explicitly seeks to democratize construction of cultural texts along with placing an ‘emphasis upon the processes by which historical narratives are adapted, rather than valuing knowledge for its own sake’ (12, emphasis in original). Perhaps most importantly, subverting the autonomy of historical discourse acts to valourize the field of adaptation in by now recognizable ways. In fact, while Tutan and Raw do not evoke ‘fidelity’ to describe scholarly expectations of veracity, the rejection of such conventions operates in corresponding fashion to that of the persistence of assessments based on adaptation’s adherence to their textual sources despite shifts in media. In proposing that historical documents be treated as adaptations, however, Tutan and Raw enter fascinating new territory to demonstrate the importance of process over product. They first turn to British historian Alun Munslow (who cofounded with Rosenstone the journal Rethinking History in the 1990s to provide an experimental platform for historians). As opposed to the realism associated with traditional national history, Munslow identifies with the limited relativism of deconstructionist approaches,15 a general opposition he has revisited from various angles, in one account distinguishing between‘interpretive’ and ‘adaptive’ history. The interpretive model seeks to maintain objective distance from its subject, inferring its claims from documented evidence in order to verify an accurate portrayal. In contrast, adaptive historians frequently practice outside the academy, and, in their roles as filmmakers, fiction writers, or spectators, they highlight speculative constructions of the past that are not beholden to questions of accuracy. In this sense, Munslow understands ‘adaptive’ more in line with ‘unconventional’ than with the reworking of previous texts central to adaptation studies. Yet Tutan and Raw are interested in testing the range of multiple connotations of ‘adaptation’. Proposing that Munslow does not take into account the specific cultural and historical conditions of transformations, they break with a media context, pressing into service Darwin’s biological description of survival as a form of adjustment to one’s surroundings (11). The potential for the expanded scope of the field is illustrated by the breadth of subjects covered by contributors to the collection. In addition to the role of film that preoccupies a majority of the sixteen essays, several interventions develop radical new associations, ranging on the one hand from the control over memory in Ireland enacted by church discourse, and heritage tourist sites on the other, to the role in Africa of repurposed Marxist ideology and the creative instruction of US university history courses. As a didactic strategy, understanding history in Darwinian terms additionally foregrounds the temporal aspect of long-term adjustment to highlight how individuals not only adapted to their contexts in the past but also how such actions consequently helps to transform the future. For Leitch, whose compelling extension of the discussion focuses primarily on the overlap between nonfiction and scholarly writing, history is bound up in the political dimensions of adaptation (and vice versa). This leads him to focus less on process and more on the philosophical enterprise of history as a whole: since ‘reinterpretations of the historical record amount to reinterpretations of earlier interpretations, the writing of history amounts to the adaptation of earlier histories’ (10). In line with postmodernism’s paradoxical dependence upon the very conventions it parodies, even ‘revisionist academic histories that take sharp exception to earlier histories are programmatically drawing on these earlier histories as sources in order to establish the originality of their own approach’ (10). If, as Leitch suggests, the very possibility of primary evidence is called into question, the implications of this brand of intertextuality are radical for the historical method’s basis in the documentary model, which has traditionally preferred firsthand accounts, diaries, letters, and newspapers under the assumption that these offer less mediated and more truthful sources (Berkhofer 5). Yet equally explosive is Leitch’s subsequent turn away from Tutan and Raw’s focus on construction to that of reception. Irrespective of the degree of intertextuality in a written text, it is ultimately consumed as a form of adaptation by audiences who transpose it onto their previous network of historical knowledge. Such a tack casts audience agency—a potential concern for critics of popular cinematic history—in a much more positive light. For historians who maintain film’s primary goal should be didactic or ‘good faith’ representations, popular blockbusters instead evoke the fantasies of general consumers, thus audiences introduced to past events solely through film may not be able to distinguish fictionalized fact from misrepresentation. Yet it is not only the borders of the past that that are subject to revision. As Leitch notes, all scholarship in the humanities and sciences may be considered adaptive in nature, though paradoxically, to embrace them as such potentially compromises adaptation as a practice. While it greatly expands the range of the field, by signifying everything, the critical term runs the risk of losing the specificity of its meaning (17–18). Seen in this light, the topic of critical specificity may ultimately be the most important one for initiating dialogue about revising the study of previous eras. As Rosenstone noted early on, distinct interpretations of discipline-specific terminology have served as a major obstacle to interdisciplinary engagement: Theorists in cinema studies (as well as those in such fields as literature, narratology, feminism, and postcolonialism) do not mean quite the same thing as do historians when they use the word ‘history’. Rarely, for example, do they refer to events, facts, data—to the traces of the past with which the historian attempts to reconstruct a vanished world. The focus tends to be on the creation and manipulation of the meanings of the past, on a discourse that is free of data other than that of other discourses. (Visions 10) This in part explains why unconventional history has arguably had the greatest impact outside of history departments, though the point about terminology could equally be applied to historians who employ adaptation as a metaphor.16 Clearly, the contemporary stakes are different for scholars whose works must (in theory) withstand the test of time than for creative artists who face comparatively few professional repercussions for disregarding agreed-upon versions of ‘facts’. At first glance, professional historians would seem likely to resist approaching their discipline adaptively for the same reason that some remain suspicious of relativism in debates about film. In other words, if historical texts are understood as endless chains of indeterminate relationships, academics worry on what grounds moral claims can be substantiated, for all representations would have equal claim to representing the past, even demonstrably false versions that may negatively impact audience understanding of ethical issues. Despite the fact that fidelity to factuality determines the documentary model, the adaptive turn should certainly not be discounted as an attack upon contemporary history’s sphere of influence in the way that earlier literary revisions were. Comparison and hybridity are inherent to the identity of adaptive criticism, providing a means of specifically looking beyond the oppositional logic foregrounded in earlier critiques. The contributors to Tutan and Raw’s collection, for example, continue to take history seriously as a category that is critical in its evaluation of accepted discourses, and their case studies provide the data and content that Rosenstone believes are frequently missing from external theory. Additionally, the issue of transformation is particularly relevant to the field today, for while documents retain authority as primary sources, what constitutes a document has expanded greatly from archived written material to encompass oral traditions, film, and emerging markers of material culture that would not earlier have been considered. Indeed, adaptation studies are particularly well-positioned to move beyond external critique and make internal contributions regarding the expansion of the documentary model. Having moved from literature to adaptation via cinema, I wish to turn to revisionism in the field of history itself by way of conclusion. The purpose is to briefly consider history-as-adaptation in conjunction with issues Robert Berkhofer raises in his manual on historical practice, Fashioning History: Current Practices and Principles (2008), which combines traditional evaluations of documentation with a revisionist expansion of the contemporary field. Berkhofer is perhaps best known to literary scholars for Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse (1995), which argued for the benefit of the postmodernist challenge to historical methodology, though his final book adopts a more standardized view of the field’s strengths and weaknesses. This is to say that he acknowledges postmodern attacks on the meta-narrative of progress, but he does not comment upon their effect, for his purpose is a methodical analysis of the unseen processes of gathering data often taken for granted. For example, Berkhofer admits that the influence of visual media has pre-empted that of academic teaching, though he subjects a wide range of film genres to analytical tests to establish a hierarchy of their usefulness. While he mentions several movies that have literary source texts, he is not intending to address adaptation concerns per se. One of Berkhofer’s recurrent themes is that all texts—whether written, visual, material artefact, nonfiction, or fiction—can serve as primary evidence if the right questions are asked (203). That said, historical methodology, even more than creative endeavours, is based on assumptions that artefacts offer important clues to the lived experiences of past peoples. Berkhofer labels these artefacts ‘survivals’, though he points out that ‘mere persistence over time does not make them historic’ (4), for their perceived usefulness to both historians and other groups has changed over the course of the twentieth century. Thus, the types of sources that held interest for earlier political and military historians are not the same today for the feminist, minority, and micro-histories whose cultural focus upon common individuals rather than great men has helped to democratize the record.17 In other words, contemporary historians are not beholden to traditional approaches; they both seek out new sources and exploit existing ones by asking new questions. With their ‘emphasis placed on the ways in which individuals and/or communities make sense of the world around them, and subsequently transform it’ (Adapting 13), Tutan and Raw’s turn to Darwinian adaptation mirrors both Berkhofer’s characterization of survivals and their changing status over time. In this latter sense, the editors seek to ‘understand why some adaptations assume more significance than others at particular points in time’ (13). But this approach can do more than merely recognize such shifts, additionally offering a means of evaluating how and why those values have changed, both in terms of production and consumption. The process of renewal signified by adaptation not only brings the act of survival into focus, then, but it also provides the framework for analysis of the reception of new interpretations in juxtaposition with previous sources, because the inherent comparative dimension of adaptation foregrounds the new questions asked of older texts. Leitch’s metadisciplinary analysis also offers substantial ways for extending concepts central to Berkhofer’s vision of history, since the historian visualizes the field in similarly intertextual terms given that history as a concept must be based on existing individual histories. In this sense, Berkhofer foregrounds the role that invention plays in the construction of any supposedly empirical text, yet he does not believe that postmodern attempts to subvert objectivity have necessarily succeeded. While the meta-narrative of ‘modernist’ progress was challenged, the general outline and interpretation of past events did not radically change from such criticism. Thus, the paradoxical or ‘hybrid nature of all histories perplexes philosophers of history but seems not to bother historians or their audiences’ (131). It is on this point that Leitch’s observation regarding how history becomes adaptation, not only through production but also through consumption, helps to illuminate the ‘hybrid’ nature of histories. As a form of reader response, it is nonscholarly audiences that increasingly determine what counts as a source rather than the professional conversion of sources into facts, even as scholarly forms of adaptation equally seek both to identify new methods and to exploit existing ones. If subsuming other disciplines represents a macro-definition, Leitch prefers a micro-level approach to adaptation that specifically examines the distinct genres through which transformation functions. Offering a possible solution to the problem of how to limit the scope of adaptation, he counsels that ‘we would be well advised to shift from defining adaptations in exclusionary terms that attempted to distinguish them from non-adaptations to examining more closely how they work through a combination of familiarity and novelty’ (18). Ultimately, Berkhofer reaches similar conclusions regarding the future of historical studies. He dismisses the types of oppositional pairings that have been used in the past to distinguish between proper and improper history—science versus art, factuality versus speculation, truthfulness versus fictive invention, and objectivity versus partiality—as ‘inadequate’ because they cannot account for the multiple and conflicting genres that make up the field today (216–17). Taking each theorist’s claim to a logical conclusion, we might delimit the scope of adaptation by exploring history as one of the genres through which it functions, while the same could be said of treating adaptation as one of the conflicting genres of history. In this additional sense of history-as-adaptation, both fields have much to offer the other in terms of theorizing the conversion of sources into products for contemporary consumption. Cross-disciplinary comparison of recurrent themes in historical revisionism reveals the ways that rethinking history has served different ends in external disciplines, yet it also draws attention to historians who have themselves questioned attitudes frequently critiqued as insular or traditional. While such comparison cannot resolve the problematic assumptions behind historical fidelity, it does put into perspective how adaptation’s similar approach to renewing and exploiting previous sources can be incorporated into the ‘traditional’ documentary model. In this regard, it would follow a similar pattern to how the social and cultural turns in the field during the latter half of the twentieth century evolved through incorporation of external theory into the historical method. Perhaps most importantly, the preceding analysis suggests a third approach to the two versions of history-as-adaptation discussed (Darwinian survival and audience consumption), one that mutually highlights the broadening consideration of what constitutes evidence within both adaptive and historiographic ‘genres’ about the past. Alternately stated, if in the past-fictional representations were obligated to ‘adapt’ to the conventions of history, while the recent scholarship cited above has claimed that history inherently operates within the genre of adaptation, then the form of history-as-adaptation that I am characterizing would instead adapt historiography’s practices to its own purposes with the goal of revising the discipline from within. As Berkhofer notes, the key to establishing the value of survivals lies in framing the correct questions. If for him, in the final analysis, history needs to be recognized as an intellectual hybrid, then adaptation’s celebration of its own inescapable hybridity can serve as an effective model for history’s task of recognizing new forms—and genres—of evidence. REFERENCES Andrew , Dudley . “Adapting Cinema to History: A Revolution in the Making.” A Companion to Literature and Film . Eds. Robert Stam and Alessandra Raengo . Malden : Blackwell , 2004 : 189 – 204 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Berkhofer , Robert F. Jr. Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse . Cambridge : Belknap P of Harvard UP , 1995 . ——. Fashioning History: Current Practices and Principles . New York : Palgrave Macmillan , 2008 . Carlsten , Jennie M. McGarry , Fearghal Treadgold Warren , eds. Film, History and Memory . New York : Palgrave MacMillan , 2015 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Cartmell , Deborah Hunter , Ian Q. Whelehan , Imelda , eds. Retrovisions: Reinventing the Past in Film and Fiction . London : Pluto P , 2001 . Cartmell , Deborah Hunter , Ian Q. Kaye , Heidi Whelehan , Imelda , eds. Sisterhoods: Across the Literature/Media Divide . London : Pluto P , 1998 . Jameson , Fredric . “Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.” New Left Review . 146 ( 1984 ): 53 – 92 . Fantoni , Gianluca . “A Very Long Engagement: The Use of Cinematic Texts in Historical Research . ” Film, History and Memory . Eds. Jennie M. Carlsten and Fearghal McGarry . New York : Palgrave MacMillan , 2015 : 18 – 31 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Gauthier , Marni . “Historical Figures Transformed: Free Enterprise and I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem.” Beyond Adaptation: Essays On Radical Transformations of Original Works . Eds. Phyllis Frus and Christy Williams . Jefferson : McFarland & Co , 2010 : 42 – 55 . Harlan , David. The Degradation of American History . Chicago : U of Chicago P , 1997 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Hernández , Marie Theresa . “Reconditioning History: Adapting Knowledge from the Past into Realities in the Present.” Experiments in Rethinking History . Eds. Alun Munslow and Robert Rosenstone . New York : Routledge , 2004 : 56 – 76 . Hoenselaars , A. J. Shakespeare’s History Plays: Performance, Translation and Adaptation in Britain and Abroad . Cambridge : Cambridge UP , 2004 . Hunt , Lynn , ed. The New Cultural History . Berkeley : U of California P , 1989 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Hunter , I.Q . “Capitalism Most Triumphant: Bill & Ted’s Excellent History Lesson.” Pulping Fictions: Consuming Culture Across the Literature/media Divide . Eds. Deborah Cartmell , Ian Q. Hunter , Heidi Kaye Imelda Whelehan . London : Pluto P , 1996 : 111 – 124 . Hutcheon , Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction . New York : Routledge , 1988 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS ——. The Politics of Postmodernism . London, New York : Routledge , 1989 . ——. A Theory of Adaptation . New York : Routledge , 2006 . LaCapra , Dominick. History and Criticism . Ithaca, NY : Cornell UP , 1985 . Leitch , Thomas . “History as Adaptation.” The Politics of Adaptation: Media Convergence and Ideology . Eds. Dan Hassler-Forest and Pascal Nicklas . New York : Palgrave Macmillan , 2015 : 7 – 20 . McDonald , Terrence J ., ed. The Historic Turn in the Human Sciences . Ann Arbor : U of Michigan P , 1996 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Mcgee , Patrick. Bad History and the Logics of Blockbuster Cinema . New York : Palgrave Macmillan , 2012 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Munslow , Alun. Deconstructing History . London : Routledge , 1997 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Raw , Laurence Defne Ersin Tutan , eds. The Adaptation of History: Essays on Ways of Telling the Past . McFarland : Jefferson , 2013 . Robinson , Alan. Narrating the Past: Historiography, Memory and the Contemporary Novel . New York : Palgrave Macmillan , 2011 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Rosenstone , Robert A. Mirror in the Shrine: American Encounters with Meiji Japan . Cambridge : Harvard UP , 1988 . ——. Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History . Cambridge : Harvard UP , 1995 . Rosenstone , Robert A ., ed. Revisioning History: Film and the Construction of a New Past . Princeton, NJ : Princeton UP , 1995 . Rothwell , Kenneth S. A History of Shakespeare on Screen: A Century of Film and Television . Cambridge : Cambridge UP , 1999 . Scholz , Anne-Marie. From Fidelity to History: Film Adaptations as Cultural Events in the Twentieth Century . New York : Berghahn , 2013 . Slethaug , Gordon. Adaptation Theory and Criticism: Postmodern Literature and Cinema in the USA . New York : Bloomsbury , 2014 . Thompson , Willie. Postmodernism and History . New York : Palgrave McMillan , 2004 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS White , Hayden . “Historiography and Historiophoty.” The American Historical Review . 93 : 5 ( 1988 ): 1193 – 99 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS ——. Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism . Baltimore : Johns Hopkins UP , 1978 . Windschuttle , Keith. The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past . New York : Free P , 1997 . NOTES 1 Historian Terrence McDonald’s edited collection The Historic Turn in the Human Sciences (1996) provides a cross-disciplinary account of the return to history in fields that had elicited new developments in academic historiography in preceding decades. For an explanation of the disciplines involved in the shift from social to cultural history in France and the United States, see Lynn Hunt’s introduction to The New Cultural History (1989). 2 Scholz draws upon feminist theory in her analysis of film and source receptions, yet as her conclusion makes clear, she understands adaptation as a key for bringing history into cultural studies, rather than influencing the field of historiography (199). 3 The term ‘history’ has also frequently been employed within the context of how adaptations negotiate representations of historical settings, as is evident in adaptations of Shakespearean theatre and Victorian literature. Illustrating the different connotations of the word ‘history’ in adaptation scholarship, for example, Rothwell presents studies related to the literary history of Shakespearean adaptations, while Hoenselaars specifically analyses the concept of history as adapted within Shakespeare’s plays. 4 As the title of his monograph suggests, historian Keith Windschuttle excoriates the impact of literary theory in The Killing of History (1997). See also David Harlan’s The Degradation of American History (1997) for an account of the excesses of deconstructive theory but also the renewal of historical writing in recent decades. 5 Hutcheon’s literary concept of parody contradicted Fredric Jameson’s famous cultural critique of ahistorical mimicry. In ‘Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.’, he alleges that history’s expression had been reduced to a form of mere nostalgia or a form of empty pastiche. 6 Robinson comments upon the persistence of Hutcheon’s model in Narrating the Past (2011), proposing instead a narratological approach to distinguish multiple genres of historical fiction. 7 In Tropics of Discourse (1978), White argued that historical texts rely upon the same narratological conventions that literature does, going so far as to claim that the pretense of scientifism has obfuscated the fact that historical works are in fact ‘literary artifacts’. Peter Burke’s What Is Cultural History (34–44) provides an account of the influence of Clifford Geertz’s work upon the new generation of cultural historians. 8 Gianluca Fantoni provides a particularly informative and concise overview of the ‘symbiotic if problematic relationship between historians and film’ (26), chronologically tracing the question of historical representation from the beginning of cinema through its halting, uncertain acceptance into historiographical scholarship over the course of the second half of the twentieth century. 9 Chapter 2 of Visions of the Past is devoted to defining the historical film. See, in particular, pages 45–62. 10 Hayden White developed the term ‘historiophoty’ to distinguish the writing of history from the visual component emerging in the latter decades of the twentieth century, although Rosenstone does not believe White’s term goes far enough. For more on the dialogue between Rosenstone and White, see the latter’s ‘Historiography and Historiophoty’ (1988). 11 Rosenstone and Parvulescu’s A Companion to the Historical Film (2012) as well as Carlsten and McGarry’s Film, History and Memory (2015), for which Rosenstone writes the anchoring chapter, are recent examples. 12 Berkhofer’s categories for judging films as histories utilize terms familiar to the elements of fiction, demonstrating how they can be employed through distinct frameworks to evaluative the plausibility of historical representation (192–201). 13 Mcgee champions a particular canon of popular films that have been critiqued for misrepresenting the past in Bad History and the Logics of Blockbuster Cinema (2012). 14 The authors respond specifically to five historians interviewed by BBC Radio 3 in 2011 for the programme ‘What is History, Today?’ about the legacy of E.H. Carr’s What is History? The five scholars minimize both Carr’s influence and status as a historian, leading Raw and Tutan to reflect upon the issue of relevance, a term that all five historians use but do not define (7–8). 15 Munslow in fact distinguishes between three conflicting epistemological ‘choices’ of history in Deconstructing History (1997): reconstructionist, constructionist, and deconstructionist. 16 Theorists in other fields may not attach the same gravity to the concept of adaptation in their own usages. An example of this is apparent in Marie Theresa Hernández’s ‘Reconditioning History: Adapting Knowledge from the Past into Realities in the Present’ (2004), an unconventional historical study that tellingly appears in a volume co-edited by Munslow and Rosenstone. Here the ethnographer utilizes the concept in her title as a metaphor to explain the political intersection of personal reflection and nonarchival community history over time, yet she does not imagine adaptation to mean intertextual reinterpretation or to have the same far-reaching potential to transform historical studies. Regarding her distinct attitude to preserving marginalized history, she notes that she ‘would not be presenting “a history” in the traditional sense. It was more a “history of narratives”’ (73). 17 Berkhofer’s list of ‘survivals’ provides an idea of the range of survivals used in both traditional and new history: ‘Pictures, public buildings and monuments, coins, arms, and particularly documents suggest the main kinds of records or materials traditionally studies, just as censuses, photographs, films, electronic messages, and everyday artefacts like garbage dumps and latrines suggest the newer or additional kinds of materials investigated more recently’ (5). © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Adaptation Oxford University Press

Contextualizing History-as-Adaptation: An Interdisciplinary Comparison of Historical Revisionism

Adaptation , Volume Advance Article – May 27, 2017

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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
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Abstract

Abstract The return to history in the humanities during the 1980s prompted literary and film scholars to question historiography’s empirical scientific status, as they instead argued that history shared more in common with fiction while their own fields of study provided means of democratizing the historical record. The concept of history-as-adaptation, recently introduced by Laurence Raw and Defne Ersin Tutan, and further developed by Tom Leitch, draws upon several of the same goals as these earlier revisionist critiques. This article contextualizes how external revision of history has been used by disciplines as a means of solidifying their own identities, despite the fact that history departments have not responded to such criticism. Through a cross-disciplinary analysis of the postmodern interrogation of historical claims, I seek to not only contextualize the adaptive turn but also demonstrate how the field’s comparative identity provides a means of transcending oppositional discourse. Drawing on the work of Robert Berkhofer, I establish a supplemental interpretation of history-as-adaptation, demonstrating the advantages of applying adaptive strategies to the documentary framework at the heart of historical methodology. Adaptation, film, history, literature, postmodernism, revision The 1980s witnessed a (re)turn to history in the humanities and social sciences, as disciplines that had contributed during the 1970s to the separation of cultural history from social history—including anthropology and literary studies—began to borrow back methodology.1 Now armed with the epistemological scepticism of poststructural theories, however, scholars in the humanities not only focussed on historicizing their own disciplines, but they also took the opportunity to interrogate the practice of so-called traditional history, presenting their own areas of study as viable alternatives. Thus under the aegis of postmodern criticism, multiple literary scholars in the 1980s posited that history was more akin to fiction than the empirical scientific model its exponents frequently presumed. In opposition to the ‘dominant discourse’ of professional historians, these scholars contended that experimental literature was more capable of representing historically marginalized groups whose stories were absent from the official record. Beginning in the 1990s, film studies also sought to legitimize the role of film in historical documentation by subverting the primacy of writing as a form of documentation. In both cases, critiquing the construction of the past ironically served to secure the future of these outside disciplines as they sought to reorient themselves at key political junctures. With Laurence Raw and Defne Ersin Tutan’s (2013) recent invitation to consider history as a form of adaptation (which has been further explored by Tom Leitch), adaptation studies has become the most recent field to proffer its own subject of study as a means of reconceiving academic control over the creation of historical meaning. The question of history has been central to the discipline from the beginning, for in the most basic media context, the relationship presupposed between source and target texts is temporal. Using a new medium to establish something new in relation to a previous text creates a new history in the process (Scholz 10). In practice, this two-way relationship is complex and must therefore be examined through the distinct historical moments related to its production, reproduction, and interpretation. As Anne-Marie Scholz has argued in her analysis of the past via reception studies, film adaptations should themselves be approached as historical events, not mere re-enactments of cultural texts.2 Tutan and Raw are certainly not the first to view adaptation and history through a postmodern lens. While much adaptation theory has explored the past in the sense of creatively resituating historical settings from film and drama,3 the collective work of Deborah Cartmell, I.Q. Hunter, Heidi Kaye, and Imelda Whelehan during the 1990s introduced another means through which film adaptations could engage history, namely postmodern commentary upon historical processes. Thus, self-reflexive feature films were revealed to thematize how history is uncritically consumed in a mass cultural context (Hunter) as well as provide a feminist response to Fredric Jameson’s postmodern critique of ‘nostalgia’ films (Cartmell et al.). As a form of ‘retrovision’, contemporary cinema about the Renaissance could even act subversively to demythologize romanticized notions of the past held in the popular imaginary (Cartmell et al. 2). The above does not represent a complete account of the postmodern response, yet it does suggest that despite conceptualizing adaptation as ‘transformation’ of the past (Gauthier), such investigations view history as a largely stable category in which some form of truth can be ascertained (or misinterpreted) through fictional representations. If such interventions establish adaptation itself as a form of history, Raw and Tutan radically reverse the equation to instead posit history as a form of adaptation with the result of destabilizing the epistemology of historical studies. In addition to drawing inspiration from poststructural theory, the co-editors provocatively ‘propose that all historical documents be treated as adaptations’ (10, emphasis in original), their stance indicative of increasing dissent with narrow prescriptions of intermedial transformation as consisting fundamentally of cinematic transposition of literary texts. This bold claim not only expands adaptation’s domain of influence, but it also threatens the very identity of historiography, whose dependence on a documentary model is one of the reasons that postmodern theory has had less traction in comparison to other fields of study (Thompson 122). The purpose of this paper is neither to provide a detailed overview of the long relationship between adaptation and history, nor to promote the validity of postmodern approaches to the past. Instead, it specifically takes as its subject the concept of history-as-adaptation and examines it within the interdisciplinary context of literary and film studies, two fields that have not only shaped contemporary adaptation studies but also previously rehearsed the subversion of history. First, in addition to contextualizing the historical revisionist impulse, this comparison highlights analogous disciplinary objectives that exist despite differences in terminology and methodology. Accordingly, whereas literary postmodern responses have pushed back against empirical assumptions that art should accurately reflect documented history, the correlative within adaptation theory is resistance against the essentialism of fidelity discourse. In both examples, scholars have replaced a narrative of loss of originality with an exploration of what is gained through processes of transformation. As a means of narrowing my scope, the resulting overview focusses on the first theorists in their respective fields to blend history and disciplinary subversion, not with the intent of legitimizing their particular brands of postmodern thought, but rather to chart the degree of overlap in their critical claims. Next, I examine the theories underlying history-as-adaptation, both as a means of demonstrating continuity with the previous examples but also to explore important differences, for examination of earlier models of revisionism provides a means of avoiding the same resistance. Censure of ‘traditional’ historiography, for example, has had a much greater impact upon the external fields making claims than upon historiography departments themselves, where literary theorists’ rhetoric of rupture is downplayed because they often have little training in actual historiographic methodology.4 This observation of competing disciplinary terminology provides the basis for drawing attention to adaptation’s unique interdisciplinarity, and I conclude by arguing that its practice provides the means for bridging the disciplinary gap in terms of critical acceptance within history departments. In order to do so, I will draw from a recent revisionist approach from within historiography to analyse how broadening what constitutes a documentary source in adaptive terms can prove a compelling means of updating the documentary model as well as revealing common ambitions with contemporary adaptation itself. POSTMODERN REVISION OF HISTORY IN LITERATURE AND CINEMA In order to examine the postmodern origins of historical revisionism, it will be necessary to first examine its practice within literary and cinematic spheres. It is important to note from the outset that revisionism in the postmodern sense is intended to either supplement the historical record through inclusion of silenced perspectives or displace official history altogether (Mchale 90). In ‘Adapting Cinema to History’ (2004), Dudley Andrew speculates on whether historical film fashions its source texts in the same way that literature does. As he notes, prejudice against film that tackles literary tradition limits its interpretation: ‘Often denigrated as a facile, mechanical, and inevitably compromised practice, the transformation of well-known sources into movies deserves the sustained attention recently given in literary scholarship to the longue durée of genres over the singular events of masterpieces’ (190). By ‘well-known sources’, Andrew means canonical literary texts and not archival documents, though a parallel bias has traditionally existed for historical literature through the obligation to adhere to professional historical accounts. During much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, merit was primarily gauged by an author’s adherence to secondary sources, while the role of imagination was tolerated only when filling in the dark spaces unaccounted for by the record. Literature was therefore itself not accepted as a source by scholars, and the rare instances in which historians considered fiction involved social realism. While this genre was deemed most likely to provide insight into the mentality of a particular time period, such assumptions downplayed the creative function of literature, making it redundant to other documentary sources (LaCapra 125). Rejecting the burden of accuracy, the revisionist literary reaction countered this perceived marginalization within historical methodology. Thus, two decades before Linda Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation (2006) helped to make the case for intermediality in the field, the Canadian critic published the companion literary manifestoes A Poetics of Postmodernism (1988) and The Politics of Postmodernism (1989). In much the same way that Hutcheon draws attention to the ‘double nature’ of adaptation as both autonomous and ‘palimpsestuous’ (Theory 6–7), she previously characterized postmodernism as double-coded, for it paradoxically works within the systems it attempts to subvert and is thus reliant upon the very conventions it exploits. Hutcheon coins the term ‘historiographic metafiction’ to define self-reflexive, iconoclastic literature that highlights how the discourses of history and fiction are equally human constructs (Poetics 5), claiming no less than that this self-theorizing genre is the paradigmatic form of cultural postmodernism. Building upon a corpus of experimental fiction spanning the previous two decades, Hutcheon’s scepticism of scientific discourses is designed to subvert historiography’s claims to objectively represent the past. Thus unlike historiography, historiographic metafiction openly celebrates its subjective and contingent status by drawing attention to its own construction. And unlike the ‘fidelity’ to documentary sources of traditional realism, self-reflexive literature purposefully distorts the historical record through the interrelated strategies of parody and intertextuality.5 Hutcheon stresses the seriousness of these tools by arguing that parody makes a political statement as a form of critical intertextuality, though this does not merely amount to caricature, but rather can also act as homage to the source historical or literary text. By claiming that the historical record has been constructed by dominant voices that silence the perspectives of minority groups—not ‘what’ history is told, but rather ‘whose’ (Poetics 90)—Hutcheon is able to posit historiographic metafiction as a more representative form of exploring the past. And taking issue with the common perception that history’s referents are real while fiction’s are imagined allows her to contend that postmodern works perform an important didactic function by virtue of intertextually revealing how both creative and ‘factual’ modes of representing the past ‘actually refer at the first level to other texts: we know the past (which really did exist) only through its textualized remains’ (119). Hutcheon has been criticized for not analysing the social and historical differences of the various regions she unites under the umbrella of historiographic metafiction. As a critical concept that assisted scholars in the struggle to foreground ethnic and gender issues during the 1990s, the strategy became enormously influential within literary departments, and by some accounts, it remains a primary form of literary historical revisionism in the twenty-first century.6 Nonetheless, while Hutcheon built on Hayden White’s claim that narrative history operated through literary conventions, few ‘conventional’ scholars were troubled by the threat that historical literature might pose to the primacy of historical documents. This is partially because literary antagonism failed to account for the fact that the cultural and linguistic turns had initiated similar disciplinary debates in academic history, resulting in the increasing adoption of anthropological and literary perspectives in cultural historiographic theory.7 In fact, during this same period, several ‘unconventional’ historians had begun experimenting with the writing and filming of historical narratives. Chief among them was Robert Rosenstone, whose interests turned to cinema after advising on the production of the film Reds (1981), for which his own biography Romantic Revolutionary (1975) served as a primary source. By the time that Hutcheon critiqued the field, Rosenstone had experimented in The Mirror in the Shrine (1988) with a nontraditional writing style, noting that his self-reflexive approach to the past bore similarities to cinematic montages that ‘will not shock any reader of modern novels, but may seem odd to some academic historians’ (xii). Several accounts exist regarding the gradual expansion of academic interest in history on film during the 1970s and 1980s,8 yet Rosenstone provided the seminal analyses of the possibilities for postmodern history in cinema studies. In his two blueprints for the field released in the same year, Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History (1995) and Revisioning History: Film and the Construction of a New Past (1995), he takes issue with scholars such as Hutcheon, not on the grounds of their postmodern claims, but rather because they cite a closed circuit of theorists while providing few, if any, examples of actual postmodern history. The reason is that there are not many such accounts, despite theoretical shifts that have made scholars aware of their contingency, academic history has maintained recognizable narrative forms out of necessity. Historical film, in contrast, increasingly represents a form that has encouraged postmodern experimentation. Nonetheless, despite disagreeing with Hutcheon’s gloss of theory, his objectives—counteracting the marginalization of feature films as historical evidence as well as cementing the status of film as a means of making ‘serious’ history—are contiguous with her own project. Indeed, the attributes of self-reflexive films he develops are analogous to her description of historiographic metafiction. Self-reflexive postmodern history films, for example, draw attention to the role of the filmmaker, incorporate multiple viewpoints, approach the past through parody, and both alter and invent events and historical actors (Visions 206–207). Unlike Hutcheon, however, Rosenstone’s goal is not to problematize the concept of historical knowledge, but rather to find novel or nonacademic ways to represent the past. Consequently, he touts the visual medium’s visceral capacity to create a more complete historical vision than can written monographs, and he considers certain filmmakers to be historians who meaningfully engage with historical concepts.9 Most importantly, the collective nature of filmmaking means that the concept of what constitutes history is democratized. As he puts it, ‘postmodern history is history that does not necessarily call itself History. It is history practiced by people who do not necessarily call themselves Historians with a capital H or even a little h’ (223). Rosenstone’s preoccupation is therefore not only with understanding the strategies employed by postmodern texts; it is also a critique of the way the discipline has presumed that films must be faithful to the written record, for the predominant approaches to history in film have undercut the agency of cinema to actively intervene in constructing history. This is evident in the ‘explicit’ approach, which treats films as social and political reflections of the eras in which they are made rather than viewing their content as a form of evidence. Conversely, the ‘implicit’ approach privileges written history, assuming that it inherently reproduces reality, and thus visual representations are always understood as partial or inferior. While not referring to adaptation, the language Rosenstone uses to describe this erroneous premise bears a striking resemblance to ‘fidelity discourse’, as it ‘essentially sees the picture as a book transferred to the screen, subject to the same sorts of judgments about data, verifiability, argument, evidence, and logic that we use for written history’ (48–9). Similarly, he rejects expectations for accurate visual representation as impractical, for film cannot be judged based on the same rules that inform written history.10 Indeed, in accord with adaptation theory’s insistence upon developing methodology appropriate to the medium, Rosenstone maintains that cinema has a language unique to its form that most historians have not been properly trained to read, which contributes to its continued misinterpretation as inferior to written scholarship. Experimental historical films can thus call attention to the limits of the written word through their focus upon representational processes. While Hutcheon’s brand of postmodern subversion is hardly likely to win large scale support from the so-called traditional historians whose work is called into question, Rosenstone not only works within the field but also employs less divisive discourse. He has thus been able to organize interdisciplinary collaborations with film scholars who have focussed on potential intersections rather than exclusions.11 And since Rosenstone first published on the topic, film about the past has increasingly gained acceptance as a viable source for historians, although still largely within the context of its perceived authenticity and quality of historical detail,12 while celebrations of inaccurate or ‘bad’ history tend to emerge from film studies.13 The compatibility of Hutcheon’s and Rosenstone’s emphases upon creative interpretation of the past therefore comes into focus despite their disciplinary differences. As the first scholars in their areas to specifically link up a postmodern scenario with the subversion of historiography, the timing of their interventions provides insight into their respective fields’ identities. By drawing upon a global canon of works, the lure during the 1980s of historiographic metafiction’s claim that literature demanded to be taken seriously lay in countering suggestions that postmodernism’s iconoclasm had little to meaningfully contribute to the debate regarding the relationship between the humanities and the sciences. During the culture wars of the 1990s, as historical experimentation became itself more prominent and varied in cinema, enough of an international canon had formed for Rosenstone to address the field as not only emergent, but also a viable alternative to institutional interpretation. In a constant state of self-examination, adaptation studies are now poised to appropriate history at another moment in which the humanities come under attack. REVISION IN HISTORY-AS-ADAPTATION AND HISTORIOGRAPHY The preceding section provided two examples of extra-disciplinary historical revisionism that could more accurately be labelled ‘history-as-literature’ and ‘history-as-film’, yet does the more recent theoretical shift in adaptation utilize the same organizing metaphor? The term ‘history-as-adaptation’ first appears in Tutan and Raw’s The Adaptation of History (2013), while Leitch’s essay expanding upon the concept leads off the collection The Politics of Adaptation (2015), an appropriate titular echo of Hutcheon’s The Politics of Postmodernism given the context. Although these publications coincide with renewed interest in the transformation of postmodern literature and film (Slethaug 2014), what separates this form of adaptive historicism from earlier engagements is its oppositional stance towards disciplinary insularity. Thus while both formulations have distinct emphases, a brief inspection initially suggests programmatic overlap with Hutcheon’s and Rosenstone’s arguments for creative confrontation of the past. Tutan and Raw, for example, explain their principal motivations behind organizing the collection as a response to the narrow focus of professional historians who either presume that any representation of former events must aspire to factuality or disregard nonacademic production—whether film, fiction, autobiography, or online blogs—as viable means of engaging and representing a bygone era.14 Taking issue with the trap of accuracy, the editors instead champion ‘individuals as creative talents who not only come to terms with the world around them, but possess the capacity to transform that world through experimental behavior’ (11, my emphasis). Not only does this concept of adaptation react on similar grounds of disciplinary marginalization to Hutcheon, but it also explicitly seeks to democratize construction of cultural texts along with placing an ‘emphasis upon the processes by which historical narratives are adapted, rather than valuing knowledge for its own sake’ (12, emphasis in original). Perhaps most importantly, subverting the autonomy of historical discourse acts to valourize the field of adaptation in by now recognizable ways. In fact, while Tutan and Raw do not evoke ‘fidelity’ to describe scholarly expectations of veracity, the rejection of such conventions operates in corresponding fashion to that of the persistence of assessments based on adaptation’s adherence to their textual sources despite shifts in media. In proposing that historical documents be treated as adaptations, however, Tutan and Raw enter fascinating new territory to demonstrate the importance of process over product. They first turn to British historian Alun Munslow (who cofounded with Rosenstone the journal Rethinking History in the 1990s to provide an experimental platform for historians). As opposed to the realism associated with traditional national history, Munslow identifies with the limited relativism of deconstructionist approaches,15 a general opposition he has revisited from various angles, in one account distinguishing between‘interpretive’ and ‘adaptive’ history. The interpretive model seeks to maintain objective distance from its subject, inferring its claims from documented evidence in order to verify an accurate portrayal. In contrast, adaptive historians frequently practice outside the academy, and, in their roles as filmmakers, fiction writers, or spectators, they highlight speculative constructions of the past that are not beholden to questions of accuracy. In this sense, Munslow understands ‘adaptive’ more in line with ‘unconventional’ than with the reworking of previous texts central to adaptation studies. Yet Tutan and Raw are interested in testing the range of multiple connotations of ‘adaptation’. Proposing that Munslow does not take into account the specific cultural and historical conditions of transformations, they break with a media context, pressing into service Darwin’s biological description of survival as a form of adjustment to one’s surroundings (11). The potential for the expanded scope of the field is illustrated by the breadth of subjects covered by contributors to the collection. In addition to the role of film that preoccupies a majority of the sixteen essays, several interventions develop radical new associations, ranging on the one hand from the control over memory in Ireland enacted by church discourse, and heritage tourist sites on the other, to the role in Africa of repurposed Marxist ideology and the creative instruction of US university history courses. As a didactic strategy, understanding history in Darwinian terms additionally foregrounds the temporal aspect of long-term adjustment to highlight how individuals not only adapted to their contexts in the past but also how such actions consequently helps to transform the future. For Leitch, whose compelling extension of the discussion focuses primarily on the overlap between nonfiction and scholarly writing, history is bound up in the political dimensions of adaptation (and vice versa). This leads him to focus less on process and more on the philosophical enterprise of history as a whole: since ‘reinterpretations of the historical record amount to reinterpretations of earlier interpretations, the writing of history amounts to the adaptation of earlier histories’ (10). In line with postmodernism’s paradoxical dependence upon the very conventions it parodies, even ‘revisionist academic histories that take sharp exception to earlier histories are programmatically drawing on these earlier histories as sources in order to establish the originality of their own approach’ (10). If, as Leitch suggests, the very possibility of primary evidence is called into question, the implications of this brand of intertextuality are radical for the historical method’s basis in the documentary model, which has traditionally preferred firsthand accounts, diaries, letters, and newspapers under the assumption that these offer less mediated and more truthful sources (Berkhofer 5). Yet equally explosive is Leitch’s subsequent turn away from Tutan and Raw’s focus on construction to that of reception. Irrespective of the degree of intertextuality in a written text, it is ultimately consumed as a form of adaptation by audiences who transpose it onto their previous network of historical knowledge. Such a tack casts audience agency—a potential concern for critics of popular cinematic history—in a much more positive light. For historians who maintain film’s primary goal should be didactic or ‘good faith’ representations, popular blockbusters instead evoke the fantasies of general consumers, thus audiences introduced to past events solely through film may not be able to distinguish fictionalized fact from misrepresentation. Yet it is not only the borders of the past that that are subject to revision. As Leitch notes, all scholarship in the humanities and sciences may be considered adaptive in nature, though paradoxically, to embrace them as such potentially compromises adaptation as a practice. While it greatly expands the range of the field, by signifying everything, the critical term runs the risk of losing the specificity of its meaning (17–18). Seen in this light, the topic of critical specificity may ultimately be the most important one for initiating dialogue about revising the study of previous eras. As Rosenstone noted early on, distinct interpretations of discipline-specific terminology have served as a major obstacle to interdisciplinary engagement: Theorists in cinema studies (as well as those in such fields as literature, narratology, feminism, and postcolonialism) do not mean quite the same thing as do historians when they use the word ‘history’. Rarely, for example, do they refer to events, facts, data—to the traces of the past with which the historian attempts to reconstruct a vanished world. The focus tends to be on the creation and manipulation of the meanings of the past, on a discourse that is free of data other than that of other discourses. (Visions 10) This in part explains why unconventional history has arguably had the greatest impact outside of history departments, though the point about terminology could equally be applied to historians who employ adaptation as a metaphor.16 Clearly, the contemporary stakes are different for scholars whose works must (in theory) withstand the test of time than for creative artists who face comparatively few professional repercussions for disregarding agreed-upon versions of ‘facts’. At first glance, professional historians would seem likely to resist approaching their discipline adaptively for the same reason that some remain suspicious of relativism in debates about film. In other words, if historical texts are understood as endless chains of indeterminate relationships, academics worry on what grounds moral claims can be substantiated, for all representations would have equal claim to representing the past, even demonstrably false versions that may negatively impact audience understanding of ethical issues. Despite the fact that fidelity to factuality determines the documentary model, the adaptive turn should certainly not be discounted as an attack upon contemporary history’s sphere of influence in the way that earlier literary revisions were. Comparison and hybridity are inherent to the identity of adaptive criticism, providing a means of specifically looking beyond the oppositional logic foregrounded in earlier critiques. The contributors to Tutan and Raw’s collection, for example, continue to take history seriously as a category that is critical in its evaluation of accepted discourses, and their case studies provide the data and content that Rosenstone believes are frequently missing from external theory. Additionally, the issue of transformation is particularly relevant to the field today, for while documents retain authority as primary sources, what constitutes a document has expanded greatly from archived written material to encompass oral traditions, film, and emerging markers of material culture that would not earlier have been considered. Indeed, adaptation studies are particularly well-positioned to move beyond external critique and make internal contributions regarding the expansion of the documentary model. Having moved from literature to adaptation via cinema, I wish to turn to revisionism in the field of history itself by way of conclusion. The purpose is to briefly consider history-as-adaptation in conjunction with issues Robert Berkhofer raises in his manual on historical practice, Fashioning History: Current Practices and Principles (2008), which combines traditional evaluations of documentation with a revisionist expansion of the contemporary field. Berkhofer is perhaps best known to literary scholars for Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse (1995), which argued for the benefit of the postmodernist challenge to historical methodology, though his final book adopts a more standardized view of the field’s strengths and weaknesses. This is to say that he acknowledges postmodern attacks on the meta-narrative of progress, but he does not comment upon their effect, for his purpose is a methodical analysis of the unseen processes of gathering data often taken for granted. For example, Berkhofer admits that the influence of visual media has pre-empted that of academic teaching, though he subjects a wide range of film genres to analytical tests to establish a hierarchy of their usefulness. While he mentions several movies that have literary source texts, he is not intending to address adaptation concerns per se. One of Berkhofer’s recurrent themes is that all texts—whether written, visual, material artefact, nonfiction, or fiction—can serve as primary evidence if the right questions are asked (203). That said, historical methodology, even more than creative endeavours, is based on assumptions that artefacts offer important clues to the lived experiences of past peoples. Berkhofer labels these artefacts ‘survivals’, though he points out that ‘mere persistence over time does not make them historic’ (4), for their perceived usefulness to both historians and other groups has changed over the course of the twentieth century. Thus, the types of sources that held interest for earlier political and military historians are not the same today for the feminist, minority, and micro-histories whose cultural focus upon common individuals rather than great men has helped to democratize the record.17 In other words, contemporary historians are not beholden to traditional approaches; they both seek out new sources and exploit existing ones by asking new questions. With their ‘emphasis placed on the ways in which individuals and/or communities make sense of the world around them, and subsequently transform it’ (Adapting 13), Tutan and Raw’s turn to Darwinian adaptation mirrors both Berkhofer’s characterization of survivals and their changing status over time. In this latter sense, the editors seek to ‘understand why some adaptations assume more significance than others at particular points in time’ (13). But this approach can do more than merely recognize such shifts, additionally offering a means of evaluating how and why those values have changed, both in terms of production and consumption. The process of renewal signified by adaptation not only brings the act of survival into focus, then, but it also provides the framework for analysis of the reception of new interpretations in juxtaposition with previous sources, because the inherent comparative dimension of adaptation foregrounds the new questions asked of older texts. Leitch’s metadisciplinary analysis also offers substantial ways for extending concepts central to Berkhofer’s vision of history, since the historian visualizes the field in similarly intertextual terms given that history as a concept must be based on existing individual histories. In this sense, Berkhofer foregrounds the role that invention plays in the construction of any supposedly empirical text, yet he does not believe that postmodern attempts to subvert objectivity have necessarily succeeded. While the meta-narrative of ‘modernist’ progress was challenged, the general outline and interpretation of past events did not radically change from such criticism. Thus, the paradoxical or ‘hybrid nature of all histories perplexes philosophers of history but seems not to bother historians or their audiences’ (131). It is on this point that Leitch’s observation regarding how history becomes adaptation, not only through production but also through consumption, helps to illuminate the ‘hybrid’ nature of histories. As a form of reader response, it is nonscholarly audiences that increasingly determine what counts as a source rather than the professional conversion of sources into facts, even as scholarly forms of adaptation equally seek both to identify new methods and to exploit existing ones. If subsuming other disciplines represents a macro-definition, Leitch prefers a micro-level approach to adaptation that specifically examines the distinct genres through which transformation functions. Offering a possible solution to the problem of how to limit the scope of adaptation, he counsels that ‘we would be well advised to shift from defining adaptations in exclusionary terms that attempted to distinguish them from non-adaptations to examining more closely how they work through a combination of familiarity and novelty’ (18). Ultimately, Berkhofer reaches similar conclusions regarding the future of historical studies. He dismisses the types of oppositional pairings that have been used in the past to distinguish between proper and improper history—science versus art, factuality versus speculation, truthfulness versus fictive invention, and objectivity versus partiality—as ‘inadequate’ because they cannot account for the multiple and conflicting genres that make up the field today (216–17). Taking each theorist’s claim to a logical conclusion, we might delimit the scope of adaptation by exploring history as one of the genres through which it functions, while the same could be said of treating adaptation as one of the conflicting genres of history. In this additional sense of history-as-adaptation, both fields have much to offer the other in terms of theorizing the conversion of sources into products for contemporary consumption. Cross-disciplinary comparison of recurrent themes in historical revisionism reveals the ways that rethinking history has served different ends in external disciplines, yet it also draws attention to historians who have themselves questioned attitudes frequently critiqued as insular or traditional. While such comparison cannot resolve the problematic assumptions behind historical fidelity, it does put into perspective how adaptation’s similar approach to renewing and exploiting previous sources can be incorporated into the ‘traditional’ documentary model. In this regard, it would follow a similar pattern to how the social and cultural turns in the field during the latter half of the twentieth century evolved through incorporation of external theory into the historical method. Perhaps most importantly, the preceding analysis suggests a third approach to the two versions of history-as-adaptation discussed (Darwinian survival and audience consumption), one that mutually highlights the broadening consideration of what constitutes evidence within both adaptive and historiographic ‘genres’ about the past. Alternately stated, if in the past-fictional representations were obligated to ‘adapt’ to the conventions of history, while the recent scholarship cited above has claimed that history inherently operates within the genre of adaptation, then the form of history-as-adaptation that I am characterizing would instead adapt historiography’s practices to its own purposes with the goal of revising the discipline from within. As Berkhofer notes, the key to establishing the value of survivals lies in framing the correct questions. If for him, in the final analysis, history needs to be recognized as an intellectual hybrid, then adaptation’s celebration of its own inescapable hybridity can serve as an effective model for history’s task of recognizing new forms—and genres—of evidence. REFERENCES Andrew , Dudley . “Adapting Cinema to History: A Revolution in the Making.” A Companion to Literature and Film . Eds. Robert Stam and Alessandra Raengo . Malden : Blackwell , 2004 : 189 – 204 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Berkhofer , Robert F. Jr. Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse . Cambridge : Belknap P of Harvard UP , 1995 . ——. Fashioning History: Current Practices and Principles . New York : Palgrave Macmillan , 2008 . Carlsten , Jennie M. McGarry , Fearghal Treadgold Warren , eds. Film, History and Memory . New York : Palgrave MacMillan , 2015 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Cartmell , Deborah Hunter , Ian Q. Whelehan , Imelda , eds. Retrovisions: Reinventing the Past in Film and Fiction . London : Pluto P , 2001 . Cartmell , Deborah Hunter , Ian Q. Kaye , Heidi Whelehan , Imelda , eds. Sisterhoods: Across the Literature/Media Divide . London : Pluto P , 1998 . Jameson , Fredric . “Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.” New Left Review . 146 ( 1984 ): 53 – 92 . Fantoni , Gianluca . “A Very Long Engagement: The Use of Cinematic Texts in Historical Research . ” Film, History and Memory . Eds. Jennie M. Carlsten and Fearghal McGarry . New York : Palgrave MacMillan , 2015 : 18 – 31 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Gauthier , Marni . “Historical Figures Transformed: Free Enterprise and I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem.” Beyond Adaptation: Essays On Radical Transformations of Original Works . Eds. Phyllis Frus and Christy Williams . Jefferson : McFarland & Co , 2010 : 42 – 55 . Harlan , David. The Degradation of American History . Chicago : U of Chicago P , 1997 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Hernández , Marie Theresa . “Reconditioning History: Adapting Knowledge from the Past into Realities in the Present.” Experiments in Rethinking History . Eds. Alun Munslow and Robert Rosenstone . New York : Routledge , 2004 : 56 – 76 . Hoenselaars , A. J. Shakespeare’s History Plays: Performance, Translation and Adaptation in Britain and Abroad . Cambridge : Cambridge UP , 2004 . Hunt , Lynn , ed. The New Cultural History . Berkeley : U of California P , 1989 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Hunter , I.Q . “Capitalism Most Triumphant: Bill & Ted’s Excellent History Lesson.” Pulping Fictions: Consuming Culture Across the Literature/media Divide . Eds. Deborah Cartmell , Ian Q. Hunter , Heidi Kaye Imelda Whelehan . London : Pluto P , 1996 : 111 – 124 . Hutcheon , Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction . New York : Routledge , 1988 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS ——. The Politics of Postmodernism . London, New York : Routledge , 1989 . ——. A Theory of Adaptation . New York : Routledge , 2006 . LaCapra , Dominick. History and Criticism . Ithaca, NY : Cornell UP , 1985 . Leitch , Thomas . “History as Adaptation.” The Politics of Adaptation: Media Convergence and Ideology . Eds. Dan Hassler-Forest and Pascal Nicklas . New York : Palgrave Macmillan , 2015 : 7 – 20 . McDonald , Terrence J ., ed. The Historic Turn in the Human Sciences . Ann Arbor : U of Michigan P , 1996 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Mcgee , Patrick. Bad History and the Logics of Blockbuster Cinema . New York : Palgrave Macmillan , 2012 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Munslow , Alun. Deconstructing History . London : Routledge , 1997 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Raw , Laurence Defne Ersin Tutan , eds. The Adaptation of History: Essays on Ways of Telling the Past . McFarland : Jefferson , 2013 . Robinson , Alan. Narrating the Past: Historiography, Memory and the Contemporary Novel . New York : Palgrave Macmillan , 2011 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Rosenstone , Robert A. Mirror in the Shrine: American Encounters with Meiji Japan . Cambridge : Harvard UP , 1988 . ——. Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History . Cambridge : Harvard UP , 1995 . Rosenstone , Robert A ., ed. Revisioning History: Film and the Construction of a New Past . Princeton, NJ : Princeton UP , 1995 . Rothwell , Kenneth S. A History of Shakespeare on Screen: A Century of Film and Television . Cambridge : Cambridge UP , 1999 . Scholz , Anne-Marie. From Fidelity to History: Film Adaptations as Cultural Events in the Twentieth Century . New York : Berghahn , 2013 . Slethaug , Gordon. Adaptation Theory and Criticism: Postmodern Literature and Cinema in the USA . New York : Bloomsbury , 2014 . Thompson , Willie. Postmodernism and History . New York : Palgrave McMillan , 2004 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS White , Hayden . “Historiography and Historiophoty.” The American Historical Review . 93 : 5 ( 1988 ): 1193 – 99 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS ——. Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism . Baltimore : Johns Hopkins UP , 1978 . Windschuttle , Keith. The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past . New York : Free P , 1997 . NOTES 1 Historian Terrence McDonald’s edited collection The Historic Turn in the Human Sciences (1996) provides a cross-disciplinary account of the return to history in fields that had elicited new developments in academic historiography in preceding decades. For an explanation of the disciplines involved in the shift from social to cultural history in France and the United States, see Lynn Hunt’s introduction to The New Cultural History (1989). 2 Scholz draws upon feminist theory in her analysis of film and source receptions, yet as her conclusion makes clear, she understands adaptation as a key for bringing history into cultural studies, rather than influencing the field of historiography (199). 3 The term ‘history’ has also frequently been employed within the context of how adaptations negotiate representations of historical settings, as is evident in adaptations of Shakespearean theatre and Victorian literature. Illustrating the different connotations of the word ‘history’ in adaptation scholarship, for example, Rothwell presents studies related to the literary history of Shakespearean adaptations, while Hoenselaars specifically analyses the concept of history as adapted within Shakespeare’s plays. 4 As the title of his monograph suggests, historian Keith Windschuttle excoriates the impact of literary theory in The Killing of History (1997). See also David Harlan’s The Degradation of American History (1997) for an account of the excesses of deconstructive theory but also the renewal of historical writing in recent decades. 5 Hutcheon’s literary concept of parody contradicted Fredric Jameson’s famous cultural critique of ahistorical mimicry. In ‘Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.’, he alleges that history’s expression had been reduced to a form of mere nostalgia or a form of empty pastiche. 6 Robinson comments upon the persistence of Hutcheon’s model in Narrating the Past (2011), proposing instead a narratological approach to distinguish multiple genres of historical fiction. 7 In Tropics of Discourse (1978), White argued that historical texts rely upon the same narratological conventions that literature does, going so far as to claim that the pretense of scientifism has obfuscated the fact that historical works are in fact ‘literary artifacts’. Peter Burke’s What Is Cultural History (34–44) provides an account of the influence of Clifford Geertz’s work upon the new generation of cultural historians. 8 Gianluca Fantoni provides a particularly informative and concise overview of the ‘symbiotic if problematic relationship between historians and film’ (26), chronologically tracing the question of historical representation from the beginning of cinema through its halting, uncertain acceptance into historiographical scholarship over the course of the second half of the twentieth century. 9 Chapter 2 of Visions of the Past is devoted to defining the historical film. See, in particular, pages 45–62. 10 Hayden White developed the term ‘historiophoty’ to distinguish the writing of history from the visual component emerging in the latter decades of the twentieth century, although Rosenstone does not believe White’s term goes far enough. For more on the dialogue between Rosenstone and White, see the latter’s ‘Historiography and Historiophoty’ (1988). 11 Rosenstone and Parvulescu’s A Companion to the Historical Film (2012) as well as Carlsten and McGarry’s Film, History and Memory (2015), for which Rosenstone writes the anchoring chapter, are recent examples. 12 Berkhofer’s categories for judging films as histories utilize terms familiar to the elements of fiction, demonstrating how they can be employed through distinct frameworks to evaluative the plausibility of historical representation (192–201). 13 Mcgee champions a particular canon of popular films that have been critiqued for misrepresenting the past in Bad History and the Logics of Blockbuster Cinema (2012). 14 The authors respond specifically to five historians interviewed by BBC Radio 3 in 2011 for the programme ‘What is History, Today?’ about the legacy of E.H. Carr’s What is History? The five scholars minimize both Carr’s influence and status as a historian, leading Raw and Tutan to reflect upon the issue of relevance, a term that all five historians use but do not define (7–8). 15 Munslow in fact distinguishes between three conflicting epistemological ‘choices’ of history in Deconstructing History (1997): reconstructionist, constructionist, and deconstructionist. 16 Theorists in other fields may not attach the same gravity to the concept of adaptation in their own usages. An example of this is apparent in Marie Theresa Hernández’s ‘Reconditioning History: Adapting Knowledge from the Past into Realities in the Present’ (2004), an unconventional historical study that tellingly appears in a volume co-edited by Munslow and Rosenstone. Here the ethnographer utilizes the concept in her title as a metaphor to explain the political intersection of personal reflection and nonarchival community history over time, yet she does not imagine adaptation to mean intertextual reinterpretation or to have the same far-reaching potential to transform historical studies. Regarding her distinct attitude to preserving marginalized history, she notes that she ‘would not be presenting “a history” in the traditional sense. It was more a “history of narratives”’ (73). 17 Berkhofer’s list of ‘survivals’ provides an idea of the range of survivals used in both traditional and new history: ‘Pictures, public buildings and monuments, coins, arms, and particularly documents suggest the main kinds of records or materials traditionally studies, just as censuses, photographs, films, electronic messages, and everyday artefacts like garbage dumps and latrines suggest the newer or additional kinds of materials investigated more recently’ (5). © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com

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AdaptationOxford University Press

Published: May 27, 2017

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