Adapted Bodies, Adapted Texts: Queer Survival Via Early Modern Drama
Navarro, Kristen Marie
To know that something has adapted is to know it has survived. Literary adaptation theory has long assumed that the survival there in question is the survival of texts that adapt to new mediums and environments and thus thrive on. This text-based survival has been of particular interest to Shakespeare-focused critics of the early modern period, given that the ubiquity of Shakespeare-proximate films and plays has created an ever-expanding archive of adaptation that is unconquerably vast. Both general adaptation theorists and scholars of specifically Shakespearean adaptation privilege the text as the surviving agent, the bulk of their analysis tending toward the alterations and reparations a contemporary adaptation can offer its source text. What this work has neglected to consider, however, is the essential role of the body in such adaptational processes. With each adaptation of a text comes its ongoing survival, to be sure, but I draw needed attention to the way that this survival is inescapably facilitated through mediums that necessitate embodiment: with films, plays, songs, and skits come bodies, and these bodies do more than merely aid the survival of the texts they adaptationally perform. These bodies are themselves adapting, and by that token themselves fighting for survival. The failure to consider this integral role of the body in any act of adaptation is a failure to consider what adaptation can offer us as embodied agents and consumers of adapted media, especially those of us whose bodies are especially vulnerable to peril. My project remedies this glaring bodily omission by looking to the unexamined moments in which both the bodily and the textual dimensions of adaptation as a term and a concept intersect. My dissertation, “Adapted Bodies, Adapted Texts: Queer Survival Via Early Modern Drama,” analyzes the ways in which the survival of queer bodies is abetted by filmic and theatrical adaptations of early modern dramatic literature.