Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Metaphors of adaptation: Honor killing in Shakespeare and Webster
by Bowman, Elizabeth Kelley, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University, 2012, 216; 3540564
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation presents a three-part metaphorical model using dynastic, familial, and architectural metaphors of anxiety, such as honor killing, rape, castration, cannibalism, and dismemberment, found in early modern texts and used in modified forms in later adaptations in the afterlife of a literary text. These metaphors represent not only anxieties within the texts, but also cultural anxieties over adaptation, inheritance, and control, after Maurice Halbwachs's architectural metaphor for cultural memory. Honor killing especially signifies a concern over gender roles, future generations, inheritance, and control.

The adaptations and collaborations (such as co-written texts) of Titus Andronicus and The Dutchesse of Malfy demonstrate a fluid, polyvocal attention to text and identity inside cultural anxieties over permanence and memorial monuments. Paradigm-shifting moments in the lineage of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus and Webster's Tragedy of the Dutchesse of Malfy, examined as responses to the earlier expressions of anxiety, suggest new directions for social and literary systems according to the time in which the adaptations arise, including Lewis Theobald's self-described feminization and romanticization of Webster in his romance The Fatal Secret (1735), Mike Figgis's fracturing and repositioning of narrative itself in his film Hotel (2001), and Brigitte Maria Mayer's global vision in her film installation Anatomie Titus (2009). The performativity, malleability, and untrustworthiness of the Dutchesse play-text for these adaptors reflects an awareness of the inherent physical instability of early modern publication and assert the cyclic right of future generations to revise old masters. To understand adaptation itself as a tripartite metaphor of anxiety is to read adaptations as responses to that anxiety. Anxieties over control, legal, and survival dominate Webster and Shakespeare's tragedies and influence the manipulation of metaphors of anxiety in later versions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Johnson, Jeffrey S., Bennett, Alexandra G.
Commitee: Balcerzak, Scott
School: Northern Illinois University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: History, British and Irish literature, Film studies
Keywords: Adaptation, Drama, Seventeenth century, Shakespeare, William, Sixteenth century, Webster, John
Publication Number: 3540564
ISBN: 978-1-267-65779-4
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