Rearranging the Room: An Adaptation of Jane Eyre with Afterword

Lenk, Jerico. Rearranging the Room: An Adaptation of Jane Eyre with Afterword. 2022. University of Washington, Master of Fine Arts critical thesis.  

The young Mr. Rochester fixed me then with those dark, depthless eyes, in a way that made me feel rather exposed. He smoked, slowly, delicately, squinting at me a moment, before he asked in a rather shy manner: ‘Would you like to visit a haunted house, Mr. Sallow?’

Intertextual adaptation, as opposed to screen adaptation, is impossible to contain within any one school of critical thought. It defies the anxieties of structuralism, contests the bounds of reader-response and reception theory, and challenges the urges of postcritique, contextualism, and intentionalism. Yet this has left adaptation at the whims of power dynamics inherent to (Western) literary theory and criticism. Critics—creative writers themselves, or not—habitually sideline the importance of adaptation and transformative generative process. Writing an adaptation is itself an act of criticism, simultaneously a resistance and application of theory embodied, experienced, exposed. This thesis thus seeks not to argue conscious authorial intent as requisite to literary criticism, but to demonstrate the inextricability of authorial resonance and process as made undeniable by the act of adaptation: here, a short story Jane Eyre adaptation with an afterword addressing methodology and a sampling of possible critical readings.

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