E 344L • From Book to Screen: African American Literature and Film
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Little of the rich pool of African American literature has been brought to the silver screen. The strong cultural and political currents found in African American literature often seem lost on film adaptations often criticized for resorting to age-old stereotypes belying the novels that inspired them. Screen adaptations are narrative and aesthetic reinterpretations for high-capital productions. While a novel is the work of a single, relatively isolated and independent author, a cinematic production implies the collaboration of many. This course analyses literary and cinematographic language as well as ideological shifts from book to screen, focusing on political discourse, with special attention to authorship and the use of stereotypes.
Course work will consist of weekly responses to the readings and viewings, a personal paper, and a final exam. Each student must sign up to initiate one week's discussion and hand in their notes for that week.
4-6 pp personal paper 40%
Final exam 40%
Chester Himes, Cotton Comes to Harlem--1964 and film by Ossie Davis, 1970
Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X--1965 and film by Spike Lee, 1992
Ernest J. Gaines, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman--1971 and TV movie by John Korty, 1974
Alice Walker, The Color Purple--1982 and film by Steven Spielberg, 1984
Paule Marshall, Praisesong for the Widow--1983
Gloria Naylor, Mama Day,--1988 and film by Julie Dash, Daughters of the Dust, 1991