Like many teachers, I often use adaptations in my literature classes: paintings of Tennyson’s poems help students identify the visual details he builds into them; Playboy‘s publication of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” makes the poem’s sexuality graphically clear; David Lean’s Oliver Twist, with Alec Guinness’s prosthetic nose, transfers the text’s anti-Semitism into a different medium; Disney’s Frozen, based on a Hans Christian Andersen story, shows how texts from the past can become twenty-first century cultural sensations. An adaptation can help students see a text in a new way, or prove the continued relevance of texts from a seemingly distant past. And in the field of adaptation studies, scholars are asking questions far more interesting than, “is this adaptation faithful to the original?”
But where does one find these adaptations? Some I remembered from my own student days; some I learned about in conversations with colleagues; others I saw mentioned in an editor’s introduction, or just stumbled onto. This ad hoc discovery is fine, but it would be nice to have something more centralized. It would also be nice to have a place to share newly discovered adaptations, and how they connect to undergraduate teaching or to research questions in literary studies.
Last summer I broached this topic with three colleagues in Victorian studies: Victoria Ford Smith, Annie Swafford, and Carrie Sickmann Han. We began a project that we’re excited to launch today: Streaky Bacon, a curated website that collects short essays about adaptations of Victorian texts. Over the past few months we’ve put together an advisory board of top scholars, collected a dozen or so essays that model a variety of approaches to adaptation, and written an introductory essay that theorizes the project.
The site will be a resource for teachers and scholars of Victorian literature. Check us out, and if you have an adaptation that’s not covered yet, send us a submission!