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Classic Novels & Films

ENGL 275.601
instructor(s):
W 6:30-9:10

In this course we will consider the phenomenon of great fiction which has given birth to great film. We will read novels which, through their continuing popularity, have come to be considered in our culture as classics; and we will view the film adaptations of those novels, which may (or may not) have become classics in themselves. When faced with a complex and literarily rich work, the filmmaker has the difficult task of creating a uniquely visual interpretation which will not only do justice to the spirit of the written work, but which will effectively transfer to film. It is that process, and its relative success or failure, upon which we will focus. Texts we study will range widely over 19th- and 20th-century British and American novels, and may include works such as Shelley's Frankenstein, Heller's Catch 22, Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Nabokov's Lolita, Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Wharton's Age of Innocence, Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, Orwell's 1984, or Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The film adaptations we view will also vary from early 20th-century black-and-white classics to recent cinematic representations. Course requirements will include one short critical essay, an in-class presentation, a final research paper, film screenings (some in-class, some outside of class), and spirited seminar participation. No exams. For more information, see the course Web page at http://www.english.upenn.edu/~rstack/novlfilm.html.