ENGL 452 A: Topics In American Literature

When the Page Floats Transformed: Reading Literary Adaptations

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
MGH 271
Dr. Laurie George
E. Laurie George

Additional Details:

English 452: “When the Page Floats Transformed”: Reading Literary Adaptations
Spring 2015
E. L. George

The limitations on the comparative analysis of literary fiction and the feature film are dominated by the socio-political situation of the two forms and disciplines which examine them. Literary fiction is an elite, privileged form--one which is legitimated by its commitment to an objective of excellence; however that is defined; while the feature film is produced by a commercial industry which is unable to survive without creating a popular audience. . . . The discomfort of the literary critic with popular cultural forms has a long and distinguished history . . . Similarly, film studies’ recognition of its situation as an area which has had to establish its respectability has produced a jealous wariness of the imperialism of other disciplines. . . . So the limited degree of intercourse that occurs between the two disciplines has to deal with suspicions of elitism and imperialism on the one hand, and accusations of ‘trendiness’ on the other.”

–Graeme Turner,
“National Fictions: Film, Fiction, and Culture”

I've never been one of those people who compared the book and the movie of the book. That's never interested me because I've always separated them as two very distinct art forms, so I never got mad if the movie wasn't the book, or vice versa. I knew from a very young age that it was impossible to do that. I mean, you're talking about a 300-page novel versus an hour-and-a-half or two-hour movie. It's impossible to convey in a movie the entire experience of a novel, and I always knew that.

–Sherman Alexie, fiction and screen writer

In conventional thought, print fictions and their film adaptations clash—one considered elite and literary, the other trendy and crass. This course challenges that conventional notion and celebrates both hybrid forms of literature as well as serious literary and cultural critical analysis. We will read print narratives and their film adaptations to test the benefits of analyzing narratives in multiple rather than singular formats, when the printed page “floats transformed.”

Course texts will include a variety of shorter and longer print narratives that have been adapted into film. Short examples include Alice Munro’s “The Bear Came Over The Mountain”; Andre Dubus, “Killings”; Longer examples include Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. Required critical reading includes Richard Barsam’s critical text Looking at Movies, whick will begin the course. We will also be accessing many scholarly as well as popular book and film reviews from our UW library databases.

Course requirements include reading and interpreting print and film narratives from various perspectives; engaged, in-person attendance and active participation in full class sessions, including in-class screenings of films and small-group presentations of film techniques and critiques of fiction and film; critical and persuasive analyses in spoken and written formats using a variety of critical approaches; research and evaluation of story and film reviews; a final essay examination, and a midterm.

The course syllabus will be distributed and discussed in the first class session and no pre-course add codes are available.

Catalog Description: 
Exploration of a theme or special topic in American literary expression.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 11:20am