Course Description


ENGL 781-03 (1338): Fall 2012
Thursdays, 4:30-6:20, Kiely Hall 325

Dr. Kevin L. Ferguson
Office: Klapper 711
Office Hours: Thursdays, 3:00-4:00

PDF of Film Adaptation Syllabus


This course examines the relationship between writing and cinema by focusing on film adaptations of literary genres such as the novel, short story, nonfiction essay, and poem. We will consider classic and contemporary theories of film adaptation as well as historical and industry-specific issues to address our central question: “How can studying film adaptation allow us to better understand what it is that literature does, and vice versa?” You’ll see that this is a very contentious issue, so expect to read lots of different points of view about the value of adaptations, to watch film adaptations outside of class, to engage in weekly blog discussions, and to examine one selected adaptation for a final project. The course is designed as a seminar with substantial weekly reading, a shared blog, and formal writing assignments.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES for students include:
« to demonstrate familiarity with competing theories of film adaptation.

« to apply those theories to specific texts.

« to be able to describe historical or industrial changes in cinematic adaptation.

« to demonstrate a mastery of methods of research and documentation.

« to be able to answer the following questions:

~ How did early film theorists define cinema as an art distinct from other arts?

~ How do theories of “how fiction works” relate to the cinema, and where do they fall short?

~ Why did the early film industry see literature as the “obvious” source for films?

~ What features are pointed to when calling adaptations “successful” or “unsuccessful”?

~ Why and how has the contemporary American film industry encouraged transgenre adaptation, tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels, appropriations, etc?

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