New forms of digital storytelling directly challenge conventional notions about adaptation by allowing for increased audience participation. Fans today exercise unprecedented levels of influence over how beloved stories are adapted. According to Thomas Leitch, fans have historically influenced certain adaptations by calling for increased fidelity. He refers to these adaptations, which resist the inevitability of infidelity to an unusual degree, as “exceptionally faithful.” Though rare, these efforts at fidelity are typically the result of fan demands. Ultimately, these seemingly faithful adaptations are more faithful to fan expectations than to their original texts. Scholarship is needed on the extensive influence of what I call “fan faithfulness,” particularly in new transmedia adaptations that directly empower fans. This paper seeks to shed light on the problem by first placing itself within the current scholarly conversation on fidelity and then exploring the historical relationship between fan demands and faithfulness. Traditional Jane Austen adaptations, which have so often been exceptionally faithful, will form the cornerstone of this analysis, as will The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a 2012-2013 serialized YouTube adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. In direct and immediate response to audience demands, this series altered its characters and storylines to accord with fans' belief that Jane Austen was a feminist and that her books echoed that feminism. As The Lizzie Bennet Diaries' dedication to Austen's feminist themes powerfully shows, new transmedia storytelling allows fans unprecedented power in demanding fidelity and deciding what that faithfulness means.



College and Department

Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters



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adaptation, fidelity, transmedia, Jane Austen, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries