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

Spring 2010

E 344L • Silent Film Adaptations of the Novel-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34850 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
7:00 PM-9:00 PM
PAR 206
PAR 206

Course Description

Hollywood has always relied on classic works of literature for inspiration and for source material. In this course, we will examine film adaptations of classic novels made specifically during the silent era, when the respective languages of literature and film were seemingly at their most distinct and yet still inimitably intertwined. In particular, we will investigate the challenges and implications of translating stories from the textual medium of the novel into what was at that time the purely visual medium of silent film. In addition to looking at the choices and changes made in specific adaptations, we will investigate the ways in which the process of adapting literary works helped to shape the developing visual language of film and influenced still-evolving methods of filmic storytelling. Both borrowing from and defining itself against novelistic technique, the language of film developed by such early directing pioneers as D.W. Griffith, F.W. Murnau, Eric von Stroheim, Buster Keaton and Fritz Lang would prove deeply influenced by each artist's grappling with the stories and storytelling methods of their literary source texts. Actors represented in the course include Mary Pickford, John Barrymore, Lon Chaney, Lillian Gish, Greta Garbo, and Buster Keaton. Most literary texts on the list will be read in extended excerpts chosen for their relevance to the film adaptations; most films (which range in length) will be viewed in totality during weekly screenings, although some will instead be viewed in excerpts during class. This course will include weekly film screenings on Mondays from 7-9pm.

Grading Policy

Attendance and participation 15%; Two short essays (5 pages each) 25%+25%; One eight-page essay 35%


Texts: A Trip to the Moon (1902); David Copperfield (1913); Caberia (1914); Tom Sawyer (1917); Pollyanna (1920); The Last of the Mohicans (1920); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920); Orphans of the Storm (1921); Nosferatu (1922); Oliver Twist (1922); Tess of the Storm Country (1922); The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923); Greed (1924); Sherlock Jr. (1924); The Phantom of the Opera (1925); Metropolis (1927); Love (1927) Key Literary Texts (most in excerpt) Verne, From the Earth to the Moon; Dickens, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist; Flaubert, Salammbo; Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Porter, Pollyanna; Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans; Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; MacMahon, Orphans of the Storm; Stoker, Dracula; White, Tess of the Storm Country; Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame; Norris, McTeague; Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera; von Harbou, Metropolis; Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


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