Recent decades have seen heightened interest in Charles Brockden Brown and his contribution to American literature. Scholars have worked to reclaim Brown from the margins of literary history, but he remains on the outskirts of literature classrooms and conversations. In an effort to further map Brown's influence and significance in the American literary tradition, I discuss his most famous novel, Wieland, in relation to Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. Brown has not previously been linked to James or The Turn of the Screw in any significant way, but the similarities between the texts provide plenty of room for discussion. I use current trends in adaptation theory to make the link from Wieland to The Turn of the Screw, with particular emphasis on issues of intertextuality in adaptation rather than fidelity to an origin text. I argue that adaptation study is a way of looking at texts rather than the examination of a certain kind of text. With this foundation, I assert that The Turn of the Screw functions as an adaptation of Wieland insofar as both explore reason, conflict, and psychological haunting in the context of late eighteenth-century Enlightenment and late nineteenth-century almost-Modernist America. The juxtaposition of these texts allows for a new reading of The Turn of the Screw, one that explores the often discussed ambiguity and instability of the text as a symbolic critique of America and, more specifically, of democracy.



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Humanities; English



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Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland, Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, adaptation