Fall 2021 Undergraduate English Courses

358:436 Seminar: Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture


Why is the nineteenth century novel so often adapted in our own cultural moment (late 20th-c to 21st-c)? What is it about these novels that invite adaptations? What are some of the questions we ask of an adaptation? When an older text is rewritten to take place in a later historical context or to make a different argument than the “original” makes, should we ask that the adaptation be “faithful” to the original (answer: no, not necessarily). We will especially ask: where does adaptation end and parody begin? (Can we distinguish between adaptation and parody?)

Adaptation has always been a principle of creativity in art, literature, and theater. (Some examples: The Aeneid echoes The Odyssey in many ways; the stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses have been endlessly revised and updated; Shakespeare had his many sources; Fielding’s parody of Richardson’s Pamela (Shamela) was popular in its own right; Pride and Prejudice now exists is many, many later versions.) We will be reading four or five major nineteenth-century novels – this is your chance to read those important novels, if you haven’t read them already! -- and then we will read and watch a selection of spin-offs, parodies, and rewritings of those novels.

Some examples of what we might be reading and watching are below (we won’t be able to do all of these in once semester, but this will give you a good idea of the course).

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice (1813)

Seth Grahame-Smith, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (graphic novel, 2001)

Gurinder Chadha, Bride and Prejudice: The Bollywood Musical (film, 2004)

Pride and Prejudice: Atlanta (TV, 2019)

Or Emma (1815)

Amy Heckerling, Clueless (film, 1995)

Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights (1847)

Maryse Condé, Windward Heights (novel, 1995)

Caryl Phillips, The Lost Child (novel, 2015)

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre (1849)

Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (novel, 1966)

Cary Fukunaga, Jane Eyre (film, 2011)

Bram Stoker

Dracula (1897)

Werner Herzog, Nosferatu the Vampyre (film, 1979)

Francis Ford Coppola, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (film, 1992)

Rudyard Kipling or Joseph Conrad

Kipling, Kim (1901) and “The Man Who Would Be King” (1888)

Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899)

Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now (film, 1979)

John Huston, The Man Who Would be King (film, 1975)

Course requirements:

You really will be required to attend and contribute to class discussion!

A few short writing exercises, running up to two papers, one 5-7 pp. and one 8-10 pp.

These papers will use critical sources (which will be provided to you) as well as the primary texts.

The class is a “hybrid,” with one in-person meeting per week and another asynchronous component per week. Sometimes that asynchronous component will involve viewing time; sometimes it will involve another meeting, but that meeting really will be “asynchronous,” because you will be given many choices of times.