Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication


This study examined the material retained, altered, omitted or created specially for prime time television films based on young adult novels. The purpose of the study was to determine the amount of original material retained by a specific television format, the telefilm. The telefilms studied were Go Ask Alice (1973) credited to Beatrice Sparks, adapted by Ellen M. Violett; Summer of My German Soldier (1978) by Bette Greene, adapted by Jane-Howard Hammerstein; and Are You in the House Alone? (1978) by Richard Peck, adapted by Judith Parker. Videotapes, transcripts, and the novels were studied by dividing the latter two into quarter pages and categorizing them as to the function each performed in developing one of the following aspects of content: theme, dramatic construction, characterization, dialogue and narration, description, setting, and style. Reviewers and critics along with quantitative tables provided the data in individual chapters based on the content areas. Telefilms were found to deviate from the content elements in the novels an average of thirty-three percent with the most faithful adaptation changing a third of the material and the least faithful changing nearly half of the material. Results of the study include: (1) Major plot lines were increased and minor ones eliminated. (2) Theme was exactly duplicated in only one of the telefilms. (3) Characterization was simplified and adult roles enhanced. (4) Only a third of the dialogue and a tenth of the narrative was retained from the original. (5) Ten percent of the description in the telefilm had some basis in the novel. (6) Two telefilms increased the number of settings presented. (7) Style was radically altered in only one of the telefilms. Three correlations became apparent: (1) the adapter who demonstrated the highest fidelity to the novelist's style showed a direct relation to the retention of the original wording and character study; (2) fidelity to content elements and retention of major plot lines is interrelated; (3) a telefilm which does not change the amount of description is likely to also retain a large number of the novel's original locales.