Adaptation & Appropriation

Gerard Gennette once said everyone who truly loves books must hope at sometime to love two at once, or something like that [actual quote pending – where is that book?]. This love for two texts is a love I hope to instill in the hearts of my extension English class as we study adaptation and appropriation this term. So far I have a short list of possible texts for study, however, I know there are so many more out there and I know you know of them. So I’m making a list and am asking you to help me add to it. So far I have the following:


The Taming of the Shrew – Shakespeare

& 10 Things I Hate About You


The Odyssey – Homer

&  O Brother, Where Art Thou? 


Lady Windermere’s Fan – Oscar Wilde

& A Good Woman


Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

& Bride & Prejudice

or Bridget Jones’ Diary (Which I hate and thus want to ban from my list. Blah!)


Twelfth Night – Shakespeare

& She’s the Man


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne

& Tristram Shandy


Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson

& Bridge to Terabithia 

My list contains mostly appropriations because that is what I like best, however, it would be good to have some adaptations on the list as well like, well anything Jane Austen that has then been done by the bbc. Adaptations are interesting because often tiny changes are made to the text to make it relevant for contemporary audiences even though a fairly ‘true to text’ approach is taken. For example, did anyone notice how the teacher in Bridge to Terabithia makes reference to the internet even though the movie is set in the 1970s and this reference, as well as being anachronistic didn’t appear in the original text?
I plan on teaching adaptation and appropriation as a continuum and proposing a range of texts along this continuum for the students to choose from. We will then focus our studies on how changes have been made from the original text and what these changes say about context, audience, worldviews and values.
SO, I’m wondering if you can help me add to this list? What are your favourite adaptations and appropriations of texts? What do you like about them?

10 Responses to “Adaptation & Appropriation”

  1. John Dekker Says:

    Oh, there are so many:

    Pride and Prejudice

    O (Othello)


    And my favouritest of them all: Richard III

  2. Radagast Says:

    Glad to see you back!

    … and with a fresh new look!

    I’m with you on #2 and #4.

  3. Rebecca Says:

    Emma – Clueless
    Uh…. I am drawing a blank on anything else… der.

  4. pgepps Says:

    Well, there are the multiple Shakespeare adaptations, especially multiple versions of Hamlet and Richard III and Othello to compare.

    Austen’s Emma becoming Clueless was my favorite example, already taken.

    Iliad becoming Troy (or “if Iliad had actually been only about Achilles”) is a pretty good one.

    A more subtle example, and my other favorite movie beside the Terminator movies (and in stark contrast to them), would be Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and the Anthony Hopkins / Emma Thompson movie drawn from it, coincidentally titled The Remains of the Day. The two are both brilliant, and quite different.

    When one gets down to the multiple adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, of course, the possibilities begin to spiral out of control….

  5. kim from hiraeth Says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter Series.

  6. lowzer Says:

    Oil and There Will Be blood!

  7. xlrte Says:

    Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw and My Fair Lady!

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Thankyou so much for this list! You have no idea how much it helped me 🙂

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  10. Anonymous Says:

    I love the appropriation of Romeo & Juliet in Warm Bodies!

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