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Campus Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



intersemiotic translation, adaptation, media convergence, participatory culture, transmedia production, authorship, audience, success, Joss Whedon


This thesis seeks to respond to the existing dearth of work on practical matters of intersemiotic translation in translation studies thus far by turning to other disciplines that have explored comparable phenomena in greater depth. In particular, in the current atmosphere of media convergence and transmedia production, characterized by the ubiquity of adaptations, remakes, spin-offs, and sequels in the entertainment industry, cross-media adaptation represents one of the most common and prominent forms of intersemiotic translation. Therefore, the various fields of inquiry related to current phenomena of intersemiotic translation, including adaptation studies, film studies, fan studies, and media studies in general, offer relevant and informative models for expanding our understanding of success in intersemiotic translation.

The methodology employed involves an interdisciplinary descriptive approach, using examples of cross-media adaptation found in the works of one successful intersemiotic translator, Joss Whedon. Acknowledging the contextually contingent nature of any such case study, the findings of this thesis identify all three participants in cultural production—form, producer, and audience—as active contributors in the successful production and perpetuation of intersemiotic translations. In particular, this thesis explores possible causes of success in relation to specific cross-media adaptations, proposes attributes of the successful intersemiotic translator, and examines how the reiterative behaviors of active audiences, such as rereading, reinterpretation, and rewriting, help to extend a work’s success.

The capacity to inspire a continuing tradition of translation is itself a key contributing factor to the success of an intersemiotic translation and is most often performed with the collaboration of a community of interpreters. Achieving success is therefore a collective endeavor and a continual process of sustaining a work’s presence in the collective consciousness by renewing its value across temporal, cultural, and semiotic systems. Based on these findings, notions of form, production, and reception in intersemiotic translation are understood by proposing a model of convergent translation, the notion of the auteur-translator, and a collaborative understanding of the construction of a text and its significance through the afterlife of translation.


First Advisor

Maria Tymoczko