The Theatricality of Media: The Ethics of Adapting Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum to the Motion Picture

Jameson Kismet Bell


This article uses the concept of theatricality to explore the relationships among literary, cinematic, and broader cultural codes presented in Heinrich Böll’s Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum and von Trotta and Schlöndorff’s cinematic adaptation. Through Erika Fischer-Lichte’s minimal yet concise definition of theater as signs of normalized cultural signs, I use the concept of theatricality to explore the diverse media in which these meta-signs are employed and arranged to both support and critique the authority of normalized cultural signs. Along the way I sketch a possible ethics of media, namely, if one can outline the possibility of translating codes and signs between various media, then one can create a means by which to critique the institutions of power dictating proper performance of the codes of the medium. (JKB)

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