Course Description: Whether in the form of a novel, a play or, more recently, a graphic novel, literature has provided a plethora of source materials for movies and television. Scrapping the cliché trope that “the book was better,” this class takes a non-elitist approach to film adaptation. Abandoning the fetish of the original, we will examine film adaptation as a complex and problematic art form. As critical scholars, we will tackle the fundamental question that all directors working on an adaptation must ask themselves: how do you translate the one-track medium of literature into the multi-track medium of cinema? What do you do to fill the extra tracks of music and image? By engaging in comparative stylistics—close readings of passages and comparing them to the film sequences they inspire—, we will examine the various aesthetic, theoretical and political choices that make up the art of film adaptation. What are the different approaches directors might take in visualizing particular forms of narrative structure? How might a transtextual approach help to illuminate the distinct choices that go into the construction of a film adaptation? How do different directors deal with the question of “fidelity” to their source material? How do revisionist and cross-cultural adaptations update, challenge, and alter their source texts? Dealing with a range of films that extend from art film classics, such as Jules et Jim to Hollywood pop culture like Clueless, we will examine the theoretical, historical, and political relevance of film adaptation. Films, like novels, are not produced within a cultural vacuum. Aesthetic choices made by authors and filmmakers alike are informed by their historical moment, contemporary political context, and (perhaps most importantly) ability to get funding. How does John Carpenter’s They Live respond to Reaganomics? What happens when a play set in 1940s Austria is transformed into a film about Senegal in the 1990s? This class will tackle the various ways that adaptations “update” and even challenge their source texts, looking specifically at how they deal with questions of gender, race and inequality. Each week we will read the source text (short story, novel, play, or graphic novel) and watch one of its film adaptations. Students are also expected to engage with short theoretical texts on the subjects of adaptation and film theory.