The Art of Adaptation

Spring 2023
Evening and Weekend
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 25
8 Credits per quarter
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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 a 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 Paradise 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. Students are 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. Our readings will include Paradise Lost, A.S. Byatt’s novella Morpho Eugenia, Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George (libretto and Broadway production), Uncloaked, Catherine Orenstein’s analysis of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale (including two film adaptations)August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson (play and film adaptation) inspired by the Romare Bearden's painting of the same name.

This hybrid program will meet via Zoom on Wednesdays, 6:00 PM to 8:50 PM, and on campus FIVE alternating Saturdays from 10 AM to 3:50 PM (January 7 & 21, February 4 & 18, and March 4). To successfully participate in this program, students will need access to a computer with a camera and internet service. Students should expect synchronous meeting times using Zoom and Canvas and at-home screening of films online. 


Spring 2023 Registration

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Time Offered
Evening and Weekend
Schedule Evergreen link
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First Meeting

SEM 2 A1105 - Lecture