Vision and Revision: Transmedia Representations of Agency in The Handmaid’s Tale Novel, Graphic Novel, and Television Series


  • Meghan Hurley-Powell



feminism, feminist dystopia, transmedia adaptation, Atwood, agency


Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is an iconic feminist dystopian novel that was relevant during its initial publication in 1985 when women’s reproductive rights were under attack. However, Atwood’s story still resonates years later, especially since it has been adapted myriad times into several mediums, ultimately rendering it a successful and socially relevant, transmedia franchise. When The Handmaid’s Tale novel, television show, and graphic novel are directly juxtaposed, the way female characters exercise their agency is conveyed differently—that is, in the novel, it is demonstrated through language; in the television show, it is demonstrated through cinematography, etc.; and in the graphic novel, it is demonstrated through a combination of words and images. As a result, the user’s understanding of feminist agency and autonomy is not only broadened, but also shifts depending on each individual female character, which ultimately celebrates the diversity of ways women can subvert patriarchal oppression. This notion can only be ascertained with a direct juxtaposition of transmedia adaptations of The Handmaid’s Tale texts.

Author Biography

Meghan Hurley-Powell

Meghan Hurley-Powell is an Adjunct Professor of English. Her research focuses on (re)theorizing agency and resistance in feminist dystopian novels, film, television, graphic novels, and video games. Her research on feminist dystopian texts appears in A Journal of Literature, Culture and Literary Translation; Gamer Women: Where Women & Gaming Unite, and FemHype: the space for women & nonbinary gamers.


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