SUNConferences, USAN2016

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“Did you think I’d forgotten you?” – The continuum of narrative in House of Cards
Jan-Hendrik Swanepoel

Last modified: 2015-12-06

Abstract


Many audio-visual texts have their origins either directly or indirectly in written texts – largely novels. Since the advent of film in the early 1900s and the popularity of television in the 1950s, viewers have been lured with classical texts on screen, but the mechanics of the day allowed producers and directors limited room for diverse artistic endeavours. Cameras were often fixed and actors were often only trained for more elaborate stage acting. Technological development over the last seventy-five years in the film and, more importantly, television industry, especially digital technologies for production and distribution, in effect altered the requirements for adapting stories for the small screen. Television series, in particular, is no longer required to be an exact audio-visual replica, to whatever degree possible, of the original written text. Instead, there is a drive for translating, adapting and understanding written texts on a continuum. Written texts, e.g. novels, are now adapted and readapted for television in terms of a cultural and temporal narrative impetus. Michael Dobbs’ award-winning political thriller House of Cards and its BBC and Netflix adaptations are accordingly considered critically in this paper in terms of “signification” and “subjectification” (Grosz, 2008:2) by considering Francis Urquhart’s narrative explication/existence in written and visual forms. In doing so, the reader’s/viewer’s narrative existence is explored as a means to animate and develop both the plot and Francis Urquhart’s/Frank Underwood’s personal and political realities.


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