Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



Processes of creative adaptation no longer fit traditional, culturally sanctioned forms, like commercial book-to-film adaptation, or vice versa. Meanwhile, internet users are demonstrating how noncommercial, creative text adaptation using video technology has become an everyday art form, a skill set, a form of communication, and a means of cultural commentary. Internet video adapters physically perform in their own videos and they create videos that work performatively online. Negotiating the slippery spaces between copyright, creativity, and cultural commentary, these creators adapt videos in myriad ways, and find spaces to share their adaptations online, despite (for most) a lack of financial return for their creative work. Yet, little scholarship addresses this type of online adaptation. Current studies of internet video memes do not explicitly address how memes work as adaptation or as performance. We are also at a loss for theories about adaptation and performance that serve contemporary, internet-literate publics. In this dissertation, I explore how traditional notions of the processes and products of adaptation are changing. I argue that internet video memes and “sweded” videos are performances of adaptation. Focusing on four case studies, each of which represents types of adaptations that do not fit well into current adaptation theories, I develop a typology for online video-to-video adaptation that could be useful in multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary academic and/or public conversations. Using this typology, I map some of the (mostly uncharted) terrain of online video adaptation performances, elucidate the limits of and expand upon contemporary theories of adaptation, and clarify some major problems and paradoxes of current US copyright law, as it pertains to online video adaptation. Throughout, I show how the adaptations in this study create, sustain, and/or upend contemporary culture, concluding that most (if not all) online video-to-video adaptation trends carry creative potential, along with potential ethical quandaries.



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Committee Chair

Suchy, Patricia



Included in

Communication Commons