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Adapting true crime events: teasing solutions to The Staircase

Larke-Walsh, George S. and Chaplin, Elayne (2022) Adapting true crime events: teasing solutions to The Staircase. In: Association of Adaptation Studies Conference, February 16-17, 2023, Online. (Submitted)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


This paper explores the ‘migration’ of a true crime story, from crime scene, to book, to documentary and fiction series under the conference topic ‘readaptation’. It uses the term migration in the fluid sense described by Westerstahl Stenport and Traylor (2015) and Leitch (2022) wherein content “migrates from, to, and between genre, medium and device” (Westerstahl Stenport and Traylor: 75) and considers this process in respect to the above quote from Sophie as she watches footage of Mike Petersen’s interview in the final episode of the fictional series.
Our central question is as follows: If we consider the adaptations of The Staircase as repositories of interconnected and competing information about events, is there any point in discussing truths, or is the purpose of each adaptation to simply “add new properties to a social artefact” (90). Do they “encourage members of their audience to return, more richly informed” (Leitch:5), or do they cancel each other out?
The texts discussed have a symbiotic relationship in that they all engage with an ‘original’ event that is ill-defined at best. Arguably, the appeal of these texts is that, while the definitive truth remains elusive, each text offers moments, glances, gestures or comments that tease audiences towards a solution. Hence, it would seem the appeal of multiple adaptations is found in the thrill of the search and punctuated by such moments as ‘hint’ markers.

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Depositing User: George Larke-Walsh


Item ID: 16119

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for George S. Larke-Walsh: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 15 May 2023 16:37
Last Modified: 15 May 2023 16:37


Author: George S. Larke-Walsh ORCID iD
Author: Elayne Chaplin

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Media and Communications

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