Mere shadows of human forms: intersections of body and adaptation theories in six screen versions of Jane Eyre
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Current scholars of cinematic embodiment recognize limitations in psychoanalytic theories of spectatorship, but their works are still too dependent on theories of the domineering male gaze. These scholars should seek new ways to theorize the female body: we cannot challenge preexisting models if we do not propose new ones. From my work in literature, I have found that body theory intersects with adaptation studies; this conflation has not been widely explored in current scholarship. In this intersection between the two fields of criticism lies a new model for theorizing the body. Filmic bodies transcend the gaze because they are not corporeal, but they are also not static images; they are transient symbols that elude the viewer's control. In my model, screen bodies represent cultural conflicts of what it means to be a woman, both in the society that produces the adaptation and in the society that produced the adapted text. I will use Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre for this project because scholars have made much of the novel's concern with femininity and self-control. However, none of these works addresses how literary bodies have been translated to the screen. I find that conflicts arise not only between written and visual bodies, but also between written and visual media. I argue that body theories resistant to the gaze lie within these conflicts.
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