One Story, Several Voices: Transmediality and Adaptation

Week Intro

I want to do something different for this week. I have dedicated July to discussing films which highlight the relationship between viewer and storyteller, and the various politics between that exchange. However, to situate this discussion, I need to momentarily branch away from film. This week, I am going to focus on transmedia and adaptation in mediums other than film.

What is transmedia? It is when one story is told across different medias (like film, tv, art installation, podcast, graphic novel, musical, etc.). Transmedia stories are those which are told using a few types of media, like a combination of film and graphic novel. This media must work together, which means that one project cannot be more important than the other.

Transmediality is a fairly new genre which is still defining itself, but that should not suggest that it only applies to new projects. There a plenty of older works which we can now read using a transmedial perspective.

As such, there is a lot of discussion about what qualifies as transmedial storytelling, but it generally boils to two perspectives: those who believe that the transmedial status is controlled by the author, and those who believe it is controlled by the audience. This first position often undermines the influence of fan culture and adaptation, which I believe plays a big role in spreading a story. Much of what I classify as transmedia comes from the audience’s participation with a story, and the way they become a type of author. I believe that transmedia is not made by just one figure, but by multiple.

For example, consider the way Greek myths function. Each myth has been rendered in different ways and by different people. Regardless of how the myth appears, it is technically the same story, stretched and envisioned by new medias and authors. This is the type of transmedia which I am most interested in.

This week, I will be examining different examples of transmedia from a few different perspectives. My goal is to demonstrate how transmedia projects extend beyond medium specificity and how they question the boundaries of authorship. Although I will not be talking about film this week, I believe this genre is relevant to film scholarship because it reclassifies the relationship between producer and consumer.

Tune in as I unpack what it means to tell a story in different ways, and why this emphasis on multi versus singular media is so exciting.