Remixing the classics: digital adaptation and the literary and dramatic canon


What does the adaptation of literary and dramatic classics look like in a digital age?

This research network seeks to understand how digital technologies can be used to engage twenty-first-century audiences in the experience of classic literature and drama, while also creating new works of art in their own right. How might mixed and virtual realities, immersive and multimedia environments, videogames, and creative applications of social media rewrite canonical texts in ways that are provocative and illuminating, but potentially also reductive and limiting?

Overview


Remixing the Classics brings together academic, creative, and educational practitioners interested in digital adaptations of classic literature and drama across a wide range of historical time periods, authors, and genres. Through a series of online seminars, a hybrid workshop in Birmingham, and a final online conference network members will:

  • Demonstrate how different digital technologies including videogames and VR, social media and transmedia storytelling, and mixed reality experiences can be used to reimagine classical source material.
  • Identify the artistic, political, reputational, and financial factors that shape the creation and commissioning of digital reworkings of canonical texts.
  • Outline the benefits and challenges of using these adaptations when teaching literature, drama, and literacy in the classroom.

All network events are free and open to the public, and teachers and creative practitioners are especially encouraged to join in. Together, participants will investigate the network's central research question: 

What do new digital technologies bring – artistically, pedagogically, politically – to the re-telling of old stories?

Network members

Leaders

Founding members

Join the network

To join the network, please fill out our registration form.

Events

Online seminars (PDF Flyer)

  • 30 March, 17:00-18:30 (BST) – 'Videogames and Virtual Worlds', featuring Andrew Burn (UCL), Rebecca Bushnell (UPenn), and E. B. Hunter (Wash U. in St Louis)


  • 9 May, 12:30-14:00 (BST) – 'Social Media and Everyday Creativity', featuring David McInnis (Melbourne), Kate Faber Oestreich (Coastal Carolina), and Brooke Viegut (Hedgepig Ensemble Theatre) Recording coming soon

  • 26 May, 12:30-14:00 (BST)– 'Publishing, Programming, and Preserving Digital Adaptations', featuring Margaret Bartley (Bloomsbury), Fiona Morris (The Space), and Stella Wisdom (British Library) Register for the event

  • 20 June, 17:00-18:30 (BST) – 'Mixed Realities and Intermedia', featuring Lucy Askew (Creation Theatre), Emma Cole (Bristol), and Kate Pullinger (Bath Spa) Register for the event

Cross-professional workshop

  • 15 July, 12:00-18:00 (BST) – Remixing the Classics Cross-Professional Workshop, at The Exchange in Birmingham, UK, and streamed live online, featuring Deborah Cartmell (De Montfort), Vicki Edmunds (Chipping Campden School), Sarah Ellis (Royal Shakespeare Company), Lara Ratnaraja (Arts Consultancy), and Erin Sullivan (Birmingham) Registration coming soon

Online conference

  • 9 August, all day – Together with the Association of Adaptation Studies, we are hosting a free, one-day, online conference on digital adaptations of classic literature and drama. Selected papers from this conference and other network events will be published as part of a special issue of the journal Adaptation. Please see the full Call for Papers below.

Call for papers

Call for Papers (PDF Flyer)


Remixing the Classics: Digital Adaptation and the Literary and Dramatic Canon

A free, online conference on Tuesday 9 August 2022

Sponsored by the Association of Adaptation Studies and the Remixing the Classics Research Network

What does the adaptation of literary and dramatic classics look like in an increasingly digital age? How might mixed and virtual realities, immersive and multimedia environments, videogames and creative applications of social media rewrite canonical texts in ways that are provocative and illuminating, but potentially also reductive and limiting? We are seeking contributions for a one-day, online, free conference on digital adaptations of canonical texts, and a follow-on special issue of the journal Adaptation exploring this subject matter.

When Linda Hutcheon published the second edition of A Theory of Adaptation in 2012, she began by considering the rise of digital media since the book’s original debut. Was the resulting ‘shift’ in adaptation practices—characterised by a proliferation of platforms, more involvement from fan communities, new creative forms and greater slippage between creation and reception—‘one of degree or, more radically, of kind’? In the book’s epilogue, Siobhan O’Flynn outlined some of the effects of ‘the social web’ on transmedia storytelling, but both noted that there was still much research to be done in this rapidly evolving field.

A decade later, further scholarly work on digital adaptations of classic texts has appeared, though much of it has focused on specific authors or texts. Such research has highlighted how digital adaptations blur the lines between authors/performers and readers/audiences, extend the literal and figurative space of the book/stage, and provoke debates about what constitutes a thoughtful, engaging, significant—in a word, ‘good’—adaptation of a classic text. This conference and special issue aim to bring such work together, and to explore digital adaptation as a phenomenon across authors, time periods, genres, and disciplines.

Papers from theoretical, practice-based, and pedagogical perspectives are all welcome, and questions for discussion might include:

  • What do new digital technologies bring—artistically, pedagogically, politically—to the re-telling of old stories?
  • What kinds of knowledge and access can digital adaptations open up for audiences, and what sorts of engagement might they inhibit?
  • To what extent do digital adaptations reinforce the hegemony of existing literary and dramatic canons, and to what extent do they destabilise them?
  • What impact do the interactive capabilities of many digital technologies have on the way audiences engage with canonical texts, and how does this relate to other work understood as transmedia?
  • What are the ethical implications of digital adaptations that elicit or make use of audiences’ biofeedback or other forms of embodied identity?
  • How might digital adaptations aid in the teaching of classic texts and how might they disrupt or hinder it?
  • How does the digital divide and unequal global access affect the creation and distribution of digital adaptations, and how can such issues be addressed?
  • What are the challenges facing both creators and audiences when it comes to realising the creative, experiential and educational potential of digital adaptations?
  • To what extent can digital adaptations be considered a cohesive genre, and to what extent do the differences between digital technologies mean that we must examine them separately?

Please submit abstracts (up to 200 words) for 15-minute papers to Erin Sullivan (e.sullivan@bham.ac.uk) and Deborah Cartmell (djc@dmu.ac.uk) by 1 June 2022.

Papers from the conference will be considered for a special issue of Adaptation.