Course Description


ENGL 391W-02 (10628): Spring 2013
Tu/Th 1:40PM–2:55PM, Kiely Hall 148

PDF link to syllabus for Film Adaptation

Dr. Kevin L. Ferguson
Office: Klapper 711
Office Hours: Thursdays, 12:30-1:30 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course examines the relationship between writing and cinema by focusing on film adaptations of literary genres such as the novel, short story, play, nonfiction essay, children’s book, and graphic novel. We will consider classic and contemporary theories of film adaptation as well as historical and industry-specific issues to address our central question: “How can studying film adaptation allow us to understand better what it is that literature does, and vice versa?” You’ll see that this is a very contentious issue, so expect to read lots of different points of view about the value of adaptations, to watch film adaptations outside of class, to engage in class discussion, and to examine extensively one selected adaptation for a final project.

English 391W explores in depth significant historical, critical, methodological or theoretical issues within the study of literature, enabling students, as they complete the English major, to reassess their previous work in the field. Readings might be drawn from, for example, a range of historical periods, a variety of genres, or a mix of canonical and non-canonical writings. The course also asks students to think creatively and analytically about literary texts alongside other media, discourses, or modes of critical inquiry and to reflect upon the broader implications of literary studies in relation to other academic disciplines and the world beyond. The course differs from the typical elective in being taught as a small seminar for students with senior standing, allowing for increased student participation and more ambitious individual projects.

COURSE PREREQUISITESEnglish major with senior status or consent of the instructor.


In analyzing literary and film adaptations, students will be able to . . .

  • Demonstrate a familiarity with competing theories of film adaptation and to apply those theories to specific texts.
  • Understand and employ relevant film analysis terms such as mise-en-scène, the dominant, and cinematography in order to offer close readings of adapted films.
  • Describe historical or industrial changes in the practice of cinematic adaptation.

In completing research-based writing assignments, students will be able to . . .

  • Identify genuine intellectual problems and conduct scholarly research that recognizes the conventions of literary criticism and academic essays.
  • Find and evaluate appropriate secondary sources (including visual, graphic, or numerical information), to select quotation for use as evidence, to integrate quotation, and to properly cite quotation using MLA style.
  • Develop and use strategies for improving writing and critical thinking through recursive practice, self-reflection, and the process of revision.

 In creating an Internet-based research project, students will be able to . . .

  • Effectively use web-based technologies in order to publish and present academic writing.
  • Understand the conventions of online presentations; prepare and deliver them; lead discussions based on such presentations.
  • Take advantage of a range of appropriate scholarly resources such as books, journals, indexes, online catalogs, web search engines, and libraries.
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