Adapting Conrad: A multi-disciplinary conference on what
happens to books when translated into other media
“Thereʼs been a lot of talk about the way in which Hollywood directors distort literary masterpieces. Iʼll have no part of that!”
– Alfred Hitchcock to Francois Truffaut, 1968.
Joseph Conradʼs fictions have been adapted for stage, screen, and radio, and
have appeared in songs, graphic novels, and art installations. His work has
been adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, Bob
Dylan, Christopher Hampton, Nicolas Roeg … and Conrad himself, who wrote
three stage plays and a film treatment based on his own stories.
What happens to a literary work – masterpiece or otherwise – when it is
adapted into another media? Is it always a distortion? What criteria of success
can be used to judge an adaptation? What can we learn about narrative,
audiences, and genre from the process of adaptation and the relationship
between the original and the adaptation? How can different critical approaches
help us understand that relationship? These are some of the questions we will
be addressing in ʻAdapting Conradʼ, a one-day conference hosted by the
Institute of English Studies at Senate House, London, on 30 May 2014.
The conference is part of a series of events celebrating and criticizing
adaptations of Conradʼs works. It follows screenings at Somerset House in
2013 of U-Wei Haji Saariʼs film Hanyut (2012, based on Almayerʼs Folly) and
Christopher Hamptonʼs film of The Secret Agent (1996) – both with panel
discussions with the directors. An edited volume, potentially to include
contributions to ʻAdapting Conferenceʼ, is also under discussion with a
Confirmed participants/keynote speakers include Dr Katherine Baxter (author
of Joseph Conrad and the Swan Song of Romance, 2010) and Professor
Robert Hampson (author of Conradʼs Secrets, 2012).
Call for Papers
We are looking for contributions to the conference in the form of either
academic papers/panels or something more unusual (such as a performance
or presentation of an adaptation of a work by Conrad). We are interested in
adaptations of Conradʼs works for any medium, from stage plays to songs.
Papers and panels can address any aspect of adapting Conradʼs work, from
the effect of Apocalypse Now on Conradʼs reception, to a close-reading of Bob
Dylanʼs ʻBlack Diamond Bayʼ.
If you have an idea for an item, the conference organizers would like to hear
from you. Please send your proposal (no more than one side of A4) to
email@example.com by 28 February 2014.