This course is a critical overview of the history, theory, and practice of adaptation. Traditionally, adaptation theory has been comparative (a novel vs. a film) and engaged in limited arguments about authorship, intent, and faithfulness to source material. But the complex exchanges occurring today among cultural forms go well beyond these debates. We live in a culture of recycling, re-telling, and repackaging of ideas and stories. On the one hand, media conglomerates seek to "version" narratives into all manner of different platforms, including movies, television programs, video games, websites, and special edition DVDs, to unfold stories and offer new pleasures and challenges to audiences. On the other hand, viewers and fan communities adapt texts to their own desires through their different responses, reading strategies, and textual transformations.
Adaptations represent a complex intersection of cultural, social, historical, industrial, and aesthetic factors. In this course we will examine the complex exchanges among films, television programs, games, novels, short stories, plays, and comics. Drawing upon critical theory, we will examine how stories are constructed on the page and on the screen, examining words as well as cinematic factors such as music, sound, cinematography, and editing. The area of acting will also be examined as a form of interpretation that utilizes the voice, gesture, and emotional memory. We will unpack how industrial practices (censorship, the star system, and genre), politics (from the cold war to neo-conservatism) and social change (related to gender,
sexuality, race, and class) shape the works we see on the screen.
Adaptations are all around us, and they can teach us a great deal about our time, our world, and our culture.