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The University of Southampton

Minnelli’s Madame Bovary (1949): A Test Case for New Disciplines Seminar

16:00 - 17:45
7 February 2017
Lecture Theatre B Avenue Campus Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Ruby Cheung at .

Event details

Part of the Film Research Seminar Series 2016 - 2017. All welcome.



The many adaptations of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary have provided fertile grounds for teaching and analysis. In this paper I want to explore how Vincente Minnelli’s 1949 adaptation for MGM has provided a test case for critics from different disciplinary backgrounds. In particular, I want to set the analyses of two seminal critics in adaptation studies (George Bluestone and Robert Stam) against the early work of two film studies scholars (Lesley Stern and Robin Wood). I will use this analysis to provide a brief account of the different approaches to classic Hollywood in both disciplines and to suggest that the new methods which formed the basis of Film Studies as a discipline in the 1970s and 1980s offered a more complex account of a film which can be best understood as ‘a film in which the internal contradictions turn its apparent ideological function against itself’. (‘Cinema/Ideology/Criticism’, J. Comolli and P. Narboni). But I would suggest this exchange (or lack of it) illustrates how Film Studies at that point was predicated on a lack of interest in adaptations as adaptations while Adaptation Studies’ pre-occupation with the movement from book to film hampered even its most radical theorists. In conclusion, I will reflect briefly on current interest in the study of adaptations and would welcome comments on that in the discussion.

Speaker information

Professor Christine Geraghty, Honorary Professorial Fellow, University of Glasgow. Professor Geraghty began her career by studying and then teaching part-time with British Film Institute and University of London in the 1970s and 1980s and took up her first fulltime academic post at Goldsmiths College in 1993. She has published extensively on film and television with a particular interest in fiction and form. Her books include Women and Soap Opera (Polity, 1991); British Cinema in the Fifties: Gender, Genre and the ‘New Look’ (Routledge, 2000), Now a Major Motion Picture: Film Adaptations of Literature and Drama (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008) and Bleak House (Palgrave/BFI, 2012). Her most recent work includes essays on Atonement (2007), The Knack . . . (1965) and The Iron Lady (2011). She is on the editorial board of the Journal of British Cinema and Television and on the advisory boards of a number of journals, including Adaptation, CST and Screen. She was for 10 years chair of the Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Association.

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