The Art of Adaptation

Spring 2021
Evening and Weekend
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
8 Credits per quarter
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“The great mystery of adaptation is that true fidelity can only be

achieved through lavish promiscuity” —David Hare

In the arts, adaptation can be described as the action or process of being transformed from one medium to another. For example, a story might begin as newspaper article or a poem and eventually be adapted as a novel or an opera. A fairy tale might be transformed into a ballet or a feature film. Inspired by George Seurat, Stephen Sondheim created a Broadway musical based on a famous painting. The film Glory was inspired by the letters of a Civil War officer. John Milton adapted the Book of Genesis into his epic poem Paradis Lost. The ways we adapt the stories we tell are endless. Why do we return to a particular 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 the creation of a novel but are completely out of place on the stage? What role does technology play in adaptation?

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, and stories that deal with the fundamental aspects of the human condition, love and death.  We’ll explore how modern concepts of time and space have reshaped myth in contemporary art forms. We will even extend our investigation to include adaptation and science. Students will be expected to read and observe from a critical stance. They will write focused responses to diverse works of art and participate in seminar, workshop, and other activities.

This program will meet on Wednesdays, 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM, and on FIVE alternate Saturdays from 10 AM to 4 PM (April 3 & 17, May 1, 15 and 29). To successfully participate in this program, students need access to a computer with internet and PowerPoint software. Students should expect synchronous meeting times using Zoom and Canvas.

Our approach will emphasize participation in synchronous (live) sessions; however, if students find themselves unable to participate due to technology, caregiving obligations, economic disruption, health risk, or illness, they can work with faculty to pursue alternate options to earn related credit.

Credits may be awarded in literature, theatre and cultural studies to pursue alternate options to earn related credit.


Spring 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

(8): 30133

Academic details

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Time Offered
Evening and Weekend
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting