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Film & Literature: Histories, Practices, Theories

ENGL 569.401
crosslisted as: CINE 501
instructor(s):
R 9-12
Benn 25
screenings: Wednesdays 5-7:30 F-B 244

The continual exchanges between literature and film throughout the twentieth century have made it virtually impossible to study one without the other. Since 1895 the relationship between the two practices has evolved and changed dramatically, always as a measure of larger cultural, industrial, and aesthetic concerns. Well beyond questions of textual fidelity, today the debates about the interactions of film and literature have opened and enriched specific textual case studies of adaptation but also pointed to larger concerns and debates which resonate more broadly across both literary studies and film studies: for instance about the cultural and textual terms of authorship, about the economic and political pressures permeating any adaptation, about the literature's apropriation of cinematic and other media structures.

Our approach here will be both historical and theoretical, introducing the prominent moments in the history of adapatation (such as Erich von Stroheim's monumentally failed effort to adapt Frank Norris's McTeague as the 1924 Greed) and surveying the major critical engagements with the literary/cinematic dialogue (such as Linda Hutcheon's recent Theory of Adaptation).

What will be most important about this course will be each participant's ability to relate the topic to their own research interests. Requirements include: a short analytical essay, a seminar presentation, a research project, and active participation.