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ENGL1026 - Adaptation: From Text to Screen
Instructor(s)
Semester
2021-2022 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
3
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Time
Thursday , 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm , CPD-3.01
Prerequisite
A minimum Level 5 in English Language HKDSE exam, or an equivalent score in another recognized English proficiency test.

In this course, students will be introduced to literary and cinematic techniques by studying recent film adaptations of literary works alongside the original text. Over the semester, we will examine one text/film combination in depth (The Joy Luck Club), as well as short excerpts from different text/film combinations each week. The required excerpts of films and texts will be provided in Moodle and Panopto, and the full films will also be available for anyone interested.

Students will confront the problems and possibilities of adaptation and how these relate to fundamental questions of interpretation. How do we construct meaning from literary texts and films respectively? How do we deal with ambiguity? What sorts of decisions must we make? What are the differences between cinematic and narrative interpretation (viewer v. reader)? What are the differences in adaptation between a full-length novel and a short novella which can be read in the same time it takes to watch a film? By exploring these questions, you will develop the skills needed for the analysis of films and how texts, new and old, are adapted to the screen.

Students should read The Joy Luck Club & watch the film (in Moodle/Panopto) before the course begins.

 

Objectives

Introduce students to literary and cinematic techniques by contrasting literary texts with their cinematic adaptions. Develop awareness of the problems in moving from text to image, and the cultural and political implications in adapting literary texts. Above all, to think about how we interpret literature and the decisions we make about its meaning and affect/effect.

 

Organisation

A weekly 75-min lecture (1.5 lecture hours) will be delivered in Moodle and should be studied before each Thursday meeting. This will consist of a mix of lecture notes, audio-lectures, and video clips, and will be augmented by recommended readings. There will be an in-class, 75-min seminar session each week, Thursdays. The class will be divided into two groups of 12-13 students. Group A will meet 13:30-14:45; Group B 15:00-16:15. Seminars are discussion- and task-based. Please complete all the online-lecture materials before the weekly seminar.

Our lynchpin will be The Joy Luck Club; we will cover that comprehensively after add/drop and return to it in subsequent weeks. We will also examine an excerpt from a different text/film each week. As you can see below, each text/film has a different theme (gender, colonialism, children's literature, ethnic stories, etc.); we will continue to re-examine The Joy Luck Club for the same themes, looking not only at the technical issues of narrative and cinematography, but also how important social issues are dealt with in these two media.

 

Study Load

Activities

Number of hours

Online Lectures

15

In-class lecture-seminars

15

Writing workshop (week 8)

3

Self-study

40

Reading: novel (The Joy Luck Club)

6

Analytical essay (includes mandatory zoom consultations)

50

In-class assignments (midterm and final)

4

Total:

133

 

Assessment

Analytical essay —(optional revision possible: grades averaged)

50%

Mid-Term 2-hour Paper

20%

Final 2-hour paper

20%

Pop-quizzes (2% x 5)  

10%

 

Grading

Your first coursework assignment (your midterm test) is not until March 17, after Reading Week, and you won't get your grade until the following week (24Mar). However, you will have done 2 or 3 pop quizzes before Reading Week, and you and I will already have been discussing your analytical essay (through individual zoom meetings); if you are struggling, we will both know long before Reading Week.

 

Required Text & Film

The Joy Luck Club, (novel 42000 wds) by Amy Tan (1989); film dir. Wayne Wang (1993). Screenplay by Amy Tan, Ronald Bass. Music by Rachel Portman. (Rosalind Chao, Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, Lisa Lu.)

 

In-class Seminars

There will be ten in-class sessions and one writing workshop in total. In small groups, you will discuss and analyse a film-clip adaptation of an excerpt from a text (see schedule). A brief synopsis (as needed) of the story plus the relevant lecture will be available in Moodle. You must read the excerpt and watch the film clip (also available in Moodle) before each Thursday, and be prepared to discuss it in class. You should set aside 2 hours each week for the online lecture and seminar preparation. There will be 5 quizzes during seminars, beginning after add-drop.

 

Analytical Essays

You must choose one text/film combination (from the list at the bottom of this syllabus) for your analytical essay. (No two students can choose the same combination.) Film/text choices will be on a first-come-first-served basis; you will sign up via Moodle, starting Monday, November 1st, 2021. This will give you plenty of time to read your source text and watch the film over the Christmas break. The lectures and seminars will provide examples of writing about film and theories of adaptation, so you will start out, from Week 1, with the tools necessary to write your analytical essay. Unless otherwise stated, source texts below are novels. (With over 70 text/films from which to choose, there should be several which appeal to you, even if you are the last in the class —capped at 25 — to sign up.) Where there are several versions of the same text, you may choose one version or compare two or more adaptations. Remember that this is an analytical essay about adaptation; avoid writing a summary of the text and film and comparing them. Don't just look at similarities and differences; focus on the "how" and "why" those similarities and differences are done.

 

Additional Texts

A Theory of Adaptation. Hutcheon, Linda. New York: Routledge 2006. (Available online at HKUL)

Rethinking the Novel/Film Debate. Elliott, Kamilla. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. (Available at HKUL, on a 2-day loan.)


Instructor(s)
Semester
2021-2022 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
3
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Time
Thursday , 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm , CPD-3.01
Prerequisite
A minimum Level 5 in English Language HKDSE exam, or an equivalent score in another recognized English proficiency test.