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Framing Empire

Postcolonial Adaptations of Victorian Literature in Hollywood

Jerod Ra’Del Hollyfield


Examines how postcolonial filmmakers negotiate national identities in Hollywood-supported Victorian literature adaptations

This book examines postcolonial filmmakers adapting Victorian literature in Hollywood to contend with both the legacy of British imperialism and the influence of globalized media entities. Since decolonization, postcolonial writers and filmmakers have re-appropriated and adapted texts of the Victorian era as a way to ‘write back’ to the imperial centre. At the same time, the rise of international co-productions and multinational media corporations have called into question the effectiveness of postcolonial rewritings of canonical texts as a resistance strategy. With case studies of films like Gunga Din, Dracula 2000, The Portrait of a Lady, Vanity Fair and Slumdog Millionaire, this book argues that many postcolonial filmmakers have extended resistance beyond revisionary adaptation, opting to interrogate Hollywood’s genre conventions and production methods to address how globalization has affected and continues to influence their homelands.

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INTRODUCTION. Accented Slants, Hollywood Genres: An Interfidelity Approach to Adaptation Theory

CHAPTER 1. Colonial Discourse, George Stevens’s Gunga Din, And the Hollywood Studio System

CHAPTER 2. "He Is Not Here by Accident": Transit, Sin, and the Model Settler in Patrick Lussier’s Dracula 2000

CHAPTER 3. Those Other Victorians: Cosmopolitanism and Empire in Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady

CHAPTER 4. Imperial Vanities: Mira Nair, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Anglo-Indian Cultural Commodity in Vanity Fair

CHAPTER 5. Epic Multitudes: Postcolonial Genre Politics in Shekhar Kapur’s The Four Feathers

CHAPTER 6. Gentlemanly Gazes: Charles Dickens, Alfonso Cuarón, and the Transitional Gulf in Great Expectations

CHAPTER 7. Indie Dickens: Oliver Twist as Global Orphan in Tim Greene’s Boy Called Twist  

CHAPTER 8. Three-Worlds Theory Chutney: Oliver Twist, Q&A, and the Curious Case of Slumdog Millionaire

CONCLUSION: Streaming Interfidelities and Post-Recession Adaptation



About the Author

JEROD RA’DEL HOLLYFIELD is an Associate Professor of Film Studies and Communication at Carson-Newman University. His work has been published in several journals and edited collections, and his short film Goodfriends has been exhibited at film festivals and was endorsed by national disability organisations. He is the creator of The Assisted Stories Project, a collection of video essays that aims to preserve and promote the narratives of the American South's elder population.


"Interfidelity," combining a film adaptation’s faithfulness to its source text and culture with its ability to talk back to them, may sound like an oxymoron. In the hands of Jerod Ra’Del Hollyfield, however, it becomes a potent tool for examining eight Hollywood adaptations that open urgent new questions about Victorian classics, colonial discourse, and filmmaking industry practices. Anyone who writes about the politics of adaptation should read Hollyfield, and anyone who writes about adaptation in any context should come to terms with his challenge to consider adaptation as a mode of resistance.

- Professor Thomas M. Leitch, University of Delaware

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