Call for Papers: Last Pages, Last Shots

blur-old-antique-book1
13-14 October 2017, Université de Caen Normandie, France

This conference continues a sequence of international events exploring the question of closure  as well as the question of adaptation.[1] We would like to turn now to the adaptation of the last pages of a novel to the screen.In this conference, we intend to measure and comment the stakes of adaptation to the screen at the end of a novel. An adaptation is necessarily the product of a specific reading of a text; it is an appropriation that can lead to a change in the end of the source text. The close of a novel, however, is both the moment when literary traditions hold strongest – and when the author may take up the challenge to buck those traditions, to distance the work once and for all from foregone conclusions (Larroux). Can the same be said of film? Does the filmmaker’s vision replace that of the novelist? Does the end of a film also signal its tendency to either follow or challenge tradition? Classic Hollywood films end with a concluding scene, followed by an epilogue (Bordwell), thus imitating the traditional novel, but adaptations are frequently the subject of narrative and structural changes, for various reasons. Hollywood’s love of the happy end is well known, while the transformation of Jane Austen’s novels into simple love stories is a striking example of Hollywood’s need to appeal to a mass audience. In animated adaptations of fairy tales, the trend is even more obvious: Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989) is but one example, born of a desire to not shock children (or their parents). Beyond this, a change to the ending can be a selling point: the producers of the recent adaptation of Gone Girl (2014) actually promoted the film by promising that it rewrote the final act, thus maintaining the suspense that readers felt, or perhaps correcting an ending that was somewhat controversial.

Beyond these transformations made to the storyline, writing for the screen necessarily engenders structural changes, be it the transition from the last images to the credits, or the move from a last chapter to the last act of a film. When the adaptation is to the endless present of television, where the ending (or conversely, the continuation) of a story is often decided not by creative choice but by ratings and network dictate, these structural changes are even more pronounced. Thus we are interested in both the ideological implications of changes made in adapting these final pages to the screen, as well as the aesthetic stance taken in modifying (or on the contrary, maintaining) the ending of the source text.We could also compare open and closed endings when they are adapted to the screen; if we think of the open endings that Torgovnik referred to as “scenic” that proliferate in the novels of Henry James, and are themselves a testament to the influence of the theater, ending with an ongoing dialogue – can we find a similar technique at work in film, or does the adaptation tend to offer a more definitive ending?

Proposals are to be sent to Dr Armelle Parey, Université de Caen Normandie (armelle.parey@unicaen.fr) and Pr. Shannon Wells-Lassagne, Université de Bourgogne Franche Comté (shannon.wellslassagne@gmail.com) by March 27th, 2017. Answers will be received in the following month.
Notes 
[1] Happy Endings and Films (dir. Armelle Parey, Isabelle Roblin et Dominique Sipière). Paris : Michel Houdiard, 2010; Literary Happy Endings : Closure for Sunny Imaginations. (dir. Armelle Parey and Isabelle Roblin). Aachen : Shaker Verlag, 2012; L’Inachevé ou l’ère des possibles dans la littérature anglophone, Récits ouverts et incomplets. (dir. François Gallix, Armelle Parey et Isabelle Roblin). Caen: Presses Universitaires de Caen, 2014; Character Migration in Anglophone Literature. (dir. Armelle Parey et Isabelle Roblin).  E-rea [En ligne], 13.1 | 2015. https://erea.revues.org/4546)L’adaptation cinématographique : première pages, premiers plans, ed.D. Letort et S. Wells-Lassagne, Mare &Martin, 2014.

Bibliography

Bordwell, David. “Happily Ever After, Part 2”. Velvet Light Trap 19 (1982): 2-7.—.  Narration in the Fiction Film. London: Routledge, 1985.Hock, Tobias.  “Film endings”. In Last Things: Essays on Ends and Endings. Ed. Gavin Hopps et al. Aachen British and American studies 19. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2014. 65-79.

Larroux, Guy. Le Mot de la fin. La clôture romanesque en question. Paris : Nathan, 1995.

Neupert, Richard. The End, Narration and Closure in the Cinema. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1995.

Torgovnick, Mariana. Closure in the Novel. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1981.

Image: pexels.com