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Adaptation theory and adaptation scholarship

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Abstract

Adaptation studies and scholars have persistently been faulted for theoretical failure. Arguing that this critique is the fallout of a dysfunctional relationship between adaptation and theorization in the humanities, this chapter examines particular problems that have arisen in adaptation scholarship as a result of adaptation’s and theorization’s impasses: for example, tensions between theoretical nostalgia and theoretical progressivism and theoretical sprawl as scholars range in search of new theories or return to old ones. Some failures, however, rest squarely with scholars, such as a widespread failure to cite prior scholarship, which has resulted in mythological field histories and trans-theoretical field myths, most notably the claim that adaptation studies has been primarily concerned with fidelity of adapting to adapted work. This is untrue. The chapter concludes that scholars instead attend to and critique our attempts to force adaptations to be faithful to theories that all too often obscure, neglect, and abuse adaptation.