“The great mystery of adaptation is that true fidelity can only be achieved through lavish promiscuity”—David Hare
We experience adaptation in every medium—stories resonate and reappear, moving from novel, newspaper, or historical event to screenplay and feature film, from poem or painting to play, from folk tale to opera, from myth to fairy tale to symphony or ballet or animated film—the ways we adapt the stories we tell are endless. Why do we return to some tale, image, or myth and what is involved in altering its form yet preserving its essence from one medium to another? What conventions, for example, are appropriate to a novel but are completely out of place on the stage? What role does technology play in adaptation?
Following on our winter quarter focus on “forbidden knowledge,” The Art of Adaptation moves to the ways we use and adapt mythic themes in works situated in contemporary life. As cultural critic Asa Berger has noted, “Myths are the instruments by which we continually struggle to make our experience intelligible to ourselves.” Hence, we will explore adaptation in relation to foundational myths, cultural myths, stories that deal with the fundamental aspects of the human condition, love and death. We’ll examine how modern concepts of time and space have reshaped myth in contemporary art forms. Students will be expected to read and observe from a critical stance. They will write focused responses to each piece and participate in seminar, workshop, and lecture activities. Returning students will have the option to engage in adaptation projects, such as producing a work in a medium that fits their vision. Credits will be awarded in literature, film studies and performance studies.
Questions that form the basis of our learning goals include:
• What makes a story or theme timeless? Why do some disappear?
• What is involved in adapting a source into an art form or a story from one art form to another?
• How does form (including genre and convention) influence content and vice versa in the adaptation process?
• How do changes in one art form shape adaptations in another art form? For example, how might conventions in film affect the narrative structure of a contemporary novel?
• What ways do technology and popular culture influence adaptation?
• How has modern art shaped our perception of and artistic use of myth?
• What can we learn from a literary work that we cannot learn from a film (or other visual medium) and vice versa?
• How does the historical context (time, place, events) in which a story is adapted determine or at least favor the form in which the story reappears?
• How does narrative impact the manner in which an art form portrays a story, an idea, a character?
For more inspired comics by P. Calavara, visit neverknows.com