The Tip of the Iceberg: What Goes Into the Making of a Work of Art?
This limited-enrollment course is about artistic adaptation: the process of turning one work of art into another, typically in a different medium. Our case in point will be a new opera, "The Loathly Lady," an adaptation of Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Tale." This work comes a comic survey of feminist issues from Chaucer to Virginia Woolf with an exploration of adaptation itself: the possibility of communication between the past and present and one culture and another. It adapts not only Chaucer but other works (e.g., Candide, "The Lady of Shalott, My Fair Lady), which are themselves adaptations of earlier works. The course will explore these transformations of transformations and the theoretic issues they raise about originality and tradition.
Since the instructor for this course, Wendy Steiner, wrote the libretto of The Loathly Lady, made an animation pilot for it, and is producing its premiere this spring, students will be in a unique position to explore an adaptation firsthand: to see how a tale morphed into a libretto, then a score, an animation, and finally a concert performance. The various collaborators on the project will discuss how they went about their own adaptations: composer Paul Richards, still artist John Kindness, animation artist Joshua Mosley, conductor Gary Thor Wedow, and performers in the April 1 performance.
The course is aimed at students interested in creating an adaptation of their own (involving literature, visual art, and/or music) and those who want to write critically about the nature of adaptation or of a particular adaptation. Collaborative projects among members of the class will be encouraged.