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From Silent Shakespeare to Postmodern Austen

ENGL 286.401
crosslisted as: CINE 280
instructor(s):
TR 1:30-3
Benn 201
screenings: Tuesdays 5-7:30 F-B 231
fulfills requirements:
Elective of the Standard Major

Since early silent adaptations of The Tempest and King Lear to the Coen brothers' 2007 recreation of Cormac McCarthey's No Country for Old Men, the movies have maintained a complex and changing relationship with literature. Often dogged by nations of textual fidelity and priority, frequently a product of economic and insdustrial pressures, and continually debated and theorized by scholars, writers, and filmmakers, the exchanges between the two practices open up a vast stream of questions and problems, many of which will be explored in this course.

We will approach the topic historically, textually, and theoretically. We will survey and carefully analyze a cultural and historical range of adaptations: beginning with the many silent Shakespeares at the turn of the last century, we will move through the classical period of the 1930s and the postwar experiments with more radical kinds of cinematic adaptations (such as Kurosawa's version of MacBeth, Throne of Blood), and into the present with its sometimes ironic (Clueless) and sometimes spectacular (Age of Innocence) transformations of literature on screen. Through readings from Vachel Linsay (1915) to Linda Hutcheon (2006), we will address a variety of issues -- about, for instance, authorship versus auterism, popular culture versus high culture, and literary reading versus cinematic viewing.

Requirements will include: weekly screenings, class participation, critical readings, an analytical essay, a research paper, and a final examination.