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Jane Sugarman

Committee Members

John Graziano

Virginia Danielson

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This dissertation explores aspects of adaptation in the Egyptian singing film in the period from 1932 to 1962. The primary types of adaptation examined are those that are evident in the stories the films told, the ways in which the songs functioned within the stories, and the music for which these films formed the setting. Research was conducted through the viewing of over sixty Egyptian films as well as time spent in Cairo to study Arabic language and music, and to collect primary sources in the form of films, press books, books, and periodicals.

The goal of this study is to deepen our understanding of both the films and the music they feature as creative examples of adaptation that resulted in stories that resonated with Egyptian values and humor, and music that appealed to Egyptian taste.

This examination also affords us the opportunity to consider the nature of cultural objects when they are adapted for use outside of their culture of origin. In the case of the movie musical, this study reveals that while plot structures, usually considered central to the identification of a film genre, were altered to suit local tastes and values, songs functioned within the plots in very similar ways to those featured in Hollywood musicals of the same period. This fact suggests a refinement of the definition of the movie musical in an international context that emphasizes the function of the films to present musical performance. The songs themselves exhibit hybrid tendencies that incorporate elements borrowed from Western popular and classical musical practice within compositions that adhere to Arab practice regarding intonation and overall structure.

Finally, this study is intended as a case study in narrative musical film outside the Hollywood system. As such, it seeks to add to the growing literature on this topic and provide a perspective that is informed by various scholarly disciplines including film studies, anthropology, and comparative literature. Considering both film and musical genres can reveal essential characteristics of the adapted objects as well as values and tastes that are important to the culture that adapted them.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

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