Colloquium | Gregory Wolmart

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 12:00pm

Gregory Wolmart

Adaptation and Allegory in Contemporary American Cinema

There are some fundamental premises and questions that have guided my current teaching and research interests, namely with regard to the relationship between film, history, and adaptation. One such premise is that a film has something to say about the definition and nature of historical phenomena, which I consider its dimension as historical allegory. Another premise is that the adaptation of literary source material across historical eras –what I am calling trans-historical adaptation– fulfills this allegorical purpose, whether or not this purpose was intended. In this talk I would like to elaborate and interrogate these assumptions through a reading of Steven Spielberg’s post-9/11 adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Cold War short story, "The Minority Report." I will investigate how Spielberg adapted the facets of the control society envisioned by Dick forty-five years earlier to his contemporary context and beyond, and in so doing, conceived a proper aesthetic for representing the incipient technological and sociological transformations in the age of Google, Amazon, and the "War on Terror." I will also consider how Spielberg’s failures in adapting the philosophical and political implications of Dick’s dystopian visions of control and the according disintegration of individual privacy and freedom of will, in favor of an excessively sentimental and ideologically incongruous conclusion to his otherwise bleak and prophetic film.

Gregory Wolmart received his Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently an Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at Drexel University. His teaching and research interests are devoted to film history, adaptation studies, and contemporary cinema. He is currently working on a book project that combines these interests, tentatively titled Allegories of Contemporary Cinema, 2001-2012.

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