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CFP: Framing Ferrante: Adaptation and Intermediality from Troubling Love to The Lying Life of Adults

The proposed CFP for an upcoming volume  with Società Editrice Fiorentina invites analyses of the cinematic and televisual adaptations of Elena Ferrante’s literary works, from Mario Martone’s L’amore molesto (1995) and Roberto Faenza’s I giorni dell’abandono (2005) to Saverio Costanzo’s L’amica geniale series (2018-), Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter (2021), and Edoardo De Angelis’s Netflix series La vita bugiarda degli adulti (2023). This CFP seeks to build on existing research by considering the literal framing and re-framing of Ferrante on TV and film screens. The aim is to extend and expand upon existing scholarship by considering the older forays into Ferrante adaptation alongside the more recent 21st century remediations. In this respect, the CFP seeks papers that conjoin questions of modality (analog or digital), medium, mediation, and trans-mediation with those of authorship, authority, and gender, around such key issues as genre and influence, commercial vs. independent productions, arthouse vs. “prestige,” etc.

We are particularly interested in the following themes/questions/approaches, focused around the formal-stylistic, structural, generic, and intermedial dimensions of the process of adaptation or remediation:

  • To what extent can the cinematic/televisual adaptations be considered autonomously from the novels that inspired them? What fresh light do the audiovisual remediations cast on Ferrante’s narratives?
  • Given Ferrante’s meticulous care in conveying women’s experiences, what cinematic/televisual techniques help these female subjectivities come alive on the screen? In what ways does an audiovisual treatment augment this aspect of Ferrante’s poetics?
  • Ferrante’s narratives have been read as committed to conveying the “untamed truth” (Frantumaglia 308), the crude lived experience of women’s affective responses in all their intense, unfiltered, authentic reality. How have filmmakers approached the challenge in the various film/TV adaptations of transposing onto the screen the “untamed” or crude quality of this affective reality?
  • Furthermore, the characteristically explosive quality in the release of affective responses in Ferrante’s works is often counterbalanced by a tightly controlled narrative structure. Given the radical shift in medium, from page to screen, how is this contrast or tension approximated in the audiovisual versions of Ferrante’s novels?
  • Similarly, Ferrante’s signature explosive linguistic energy is often balanced by stillness in her texts. How is such stillness, as a counter to strategically unleashed energy, conveyed through the choice of shots and scenes in the audiovisual adaptations?
  • In Frantumaglia Ferrante surmises that a certain dissolving of margins (smarginatura)  is necessary to narrate a story: “A story begins when, one after another, our borders collapse” (326). How do the cinematic or televisual versions of Ferrante’s works capture this generative collapse? Or is smarginatura somehow a ‘purely’ literary phenomenon?
  • Scholarship  has revealed Ferrante’s novels to be highly intertextual works. To what extent does the panoply of literary, mythological, art historical, and other mediatic references find their way into the films/TV series, and how, if at all, are they adapted to the other medium?
  • How are the themes of gender and social class restrictions, as well as the political dynamics of the different contexts of Ferrante’s novels, rendered on screen? What difference does it make that Ferrante’s (generally female) protagonists can be literally seen and heard, as embodied by specific actors?
  • What is gained, lost, or transformed in Ferrante’s narratives in their transposition to the audiobook format, with only the recorded voice to convey meaning?
  • What role is played by subtitles, in languages other than Italian, in the remediation of Ferrante’s texts from page to screen?
  • In Ferrante’s works, Naples and the Neapolitan context are often interpreted through the lens of a celebrated porosity (a perception of the city famously proposed by Walter Benjamin), in that the city acts almost as an uncontained extension of the novels’ characters. How is the Neapolitan setting deployed in the various film/TV adaptations? Does Ferrante’s characteristic porosity hold, or do other modalities for the setting arise? What difference does it make to actually see Naples on screen, as opposed to the narrated Naples of Ferrante’s discourse?
  • In what ways, if any, do the audiovisual adaptations augment our understanding of the significance of Naples, motherhood, and frantumaglia in Ferrante’s narratives?

Please send a 150-word abstract, a short bio-blurb and a working title by July 15th 2023. Articles will be due on October 30th 2023. Please send your materials and address your inquiries to Russell Kilbourn and Roberta Cauchi-Santoro

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