Spring 2015 Undergraduate English Courses:

358:436 Seminar: Dickens and Film

02   MW4   CAC   17164   SADOFF  MU-003


What happens when Oliver Twist and Fagin dance out of the slums and into the sunset? When Gwyneth Paltrow, as Estella, strips down for Pip and chides her guardian, "for heavens sake, it's the '80s"? When the South Park gang screams, shouts, and grimaces its way through Dickens's tale? When Oliver Twist becomes graphic novel? In this seminar, we'll read three novels by Charles Dickens and watch the films adapted from them. We will discover that Dickens was a deeply autobiographical novelist when we read what his first biographer, John Forster, called Dickens's "Autobiographical Fragment." We'll read, in addition, essays on film adaptation, film languages, and literature's relation to film; some essays on historical conditions during the times Dickens wrote; and some cultural studies work that considers Dickens's afterlife in the postmodern Anglo-American world. In short, we'll look back to the celebration of the Charles Dickens bicentenary, the 200th anniversary of his birth (February 7, 2012).

Requirements: We will screen our films as a group or on our own, depending on the group's needs; you may also purchase DVDs for yourself or stream the films on the internet, since all are readily available. You will write guided responses to the films, with "screening questions" that I provide. You will also write, spread over the semester's second half, a paper proposal, an annotated bibliography, a draft of the first part of your paper, and a final research paper of 10-12 pages, due during the reading period between classes and final exams.

Attendance: Regular attendance and participation required. More than four absences will lower your grade; more than eight absences will cause you to fail the course.

Means of evaluation: class participation, response papers, in-class and out-of-class writing assignments, and research paper and process work leading up to it.

Readings:
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (Norton Critical Edition)
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (Norton Critical Edition)
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (Bedford-St. Martin's Press)
Will Eisner, Fagin the Jew (Doubleday)

DVDs:
David Lean, Oliver Twist (Cineguild, 1945)
Roman Polanski, Oliver Twist (RP Prods., 2005)
Carol Reed, Oliver! (Romulus Films, 1968)
George Cukor, David Copperfield (1935)
Adrian Hodges, David Copperfield (BBC TV, 1999)
David Lean, Great Expectations (Universal Pictures, 1946)
Alfonso CuarĂ³n, Great Expectations (20th-Century Fox, 1998)