Irish Screen Studies Seminar 2024

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Stephen Knight's BBC Dickens Adaptations and the Gothic Representation of History
This paper examines the various adaptation frameworks operating in Stephen Knight's television adaptations of Dickens for the BBC: A Christmas Carol (2019) and Great Expectations (2023) as part of a larger project focused on how employing a Gothic mode in historical drama encourages considerations of the past as a place of trauma that is still relevant to, even active in, the present. This paper will thus use ideas of fidelity to the source text only as part of identifying what has been done in the adaptation, as well as its role as a core part of discourse around the adaptations. These reveal ideas not just of cultural capital in relation to literary adaptation, but also to the very relevance of these texts as focal points for discussion around cultural trauma and the interpretation and presentation of history. These productions function not just as adaptations of literary texts, but adaptations of history as well. The tensions that are raised between the production and the stated expectations of some audience members as to what is a 'correct' or appropriate adaptation emphasise history's relevance to the present, in representing exploitative capitalism, structural inequality and racism. This analysis therefore draws on the perceived value of adaptations of canonical literature as a part of the way that history is viewed, and how new adaptations can illustrate cultural tensions around ideas of history, what the past was like and how it should be represented.
Period07 May 2024
Event typeConference
LocationBelfast, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Gothic
  • Historical drama
  • Television drama