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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2009

E 379S • Complicated Reading: The Adaptation of Film

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34605 TTh
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
PAR 210

Course Description

As part of our University-directed self-assessment project, the English Department has initiated an ePortfolio program for English majors. You will be asked to submit, in electronic form, two documents--a one page essay on the English major and a copy of your final paper for the seminar. Additionally, you will be asked to complete a brief four question survey. During the semester, you will receive details from your instructor or from the English Department on completing the survey and submitting the documents on your senior seminar's Blackboard website.

How can we understand what happens when a novel, play, comic book, or other form becomes translated into a film? In this course, we will examine several ways of grasping this transformation as we look at many examples of the written and visual arts and the movies they have become. We will range from Shakespeare to the X Men as we consider how meanings alter over different cultures, genres, and epochs, and we will read some criticism about adaptation and some film theory to guide us.

Grading Policy

Three two-page response papers 15%
Three one-paragraph assessments of class discussion 10%
One 3-5-page essay on a film adaptation of your choosing 25%
One 12-15-page research/ critical essay on a film adaptation of your choosing, plus a one-page prospectus for the essay due two weeks before semester's end 40%
Discussion leading, class contributions, and general demeanor will complete the percentile tally 10%


Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part One, and Gus Van Sant, My Own Private Idaho
Shakespeare, Hamlet, and Christopher Nolan, Memento
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (play and movie)
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, and Richard Donner, Scrooged
Dashiell Hammet, The Maltese Falcon, and John Huston, The Maltese Falcon
James Cain, Double Indemnity, and Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy and Michael Winterbottom, A Cock and Bull Story
Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men and Bryan Singer, X-Men
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ridley Scott, Bladerunner


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