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Nineteenth-Century Adaptations:

An Undergraduate Honors Seminar

Course Description

This course is not so much about the nineteenth century as it is inspired by it. The focus of the course will be the historical and multi-generic progeny of nineteenth-century novels. We might think of this course as a re-visioning of the period through the lenses of select revisions of nineteenth-century texts.

We’ll begin the semester with Jane Austen, the undying icon of popular culture. We will then turn our attention to that other ubiquitous Jane—Jane Eyre—ferreting out this orphan novel’s various and multi-generic descendents. Having established the general lay of the land, we’ll set up camp in Dickens country, where we’ll spend the rest of the semester exploring Great Expectations and some of its dramatic, narrative, and cinematic offspring. We’ll supplement our core group of texts and films with a wide array of secondary readings drawn from adaptation theory, literary criticism, and film/theatre studies. Though the syllabus is challenging, it has been carefully designed to produce an intellectually enriching experience.

Course requirements include active participation in class discussion, three short assignments, and two formal papers.

The syllabus is very full, and students will need to allow themselves ample time to complete the reading. Students are strongly cautioned to consider the relatively brisk pacing of the class. You have been warned! This is not a class for the casual reader or uninterested student: students can expect, on average, to read approximately 200-300 pages per week. Quizzes and in-class activities will be offered to encourage students to keep pace with this rigorous schedule.


Your final course grade will be determined by the following combination of assignments:

Participation (In-Class and Online) -- 10%
Reading Quizzes -- 10%
Summary of Critical Article -- 10%
Discussion Questions -- 5%
First Paper -- 20%
Annotated Bibliography for Final Project -- 10%
Final Project Paper -- 25%

Reading Schedule
27 August

Adapted from, Adapted to:
Developing a Conceptual Framework for Adaptation Studies

Critical Reading
Imelda Whelehan, "Adaptations: The Contemporary Dilemmas"

Hillel Schwartz, from The Culture of the Copy
3 September

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Volumes I & II (1-158)

10 September

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Volume III (158-254)

Critical Reading
D.W. Harding,"'Regulated Hatred'" (Norton 296-99)

Nina Auerbach, "Waiting Together: Pride and Prejudice" (Norton 326-47)

Claudia Johnson, "Pride and Prejudice and the Pursuit of Happiness" (Norton 348-55)

Susan Fraiman, "The Humiliation of Elizabeth Bennett" (Norton 356-68)
17 September

Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’s Diary

Selection from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Critical Reading
Thomas Leitch, "Between Adaptation and Allusion"

Robert Stam, "Beyond Fidelity: The Dialogics of Adaptation"
24 September

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre                                                
Volumes I & II (5-253)

*Austen Papers Due*

1 October

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Volume III (253-385)

Critical Reading
Sandra Gilbert, "A Dialogue of Self and Soul: Plain Jane's Progress" (Norton 483-91)

Jerome Beaty, "St. John's Way and the Wayward Reader" (Norton 491-503)

Lisa Sternlieb, "Jane Eyre: Hazarding Confidences" (Norton 503-515)

*Fielding Papers Due*

8 October

Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affair

Critical Reading
Francesco Casetti, "Adaptation and Mis-Adaptations: Film, Literature, and Social Discourses"

Julie Sanders, "What is Adaptation?" and "What is Appropriation?"
15 October

Jane on the Silver Screen

Jane Eyre. Screenplay by Aldous Huxley, John Houseman, and Robert  Louis Stevenson. Starring Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, and Elizabeth Taylor (1944)

Jane Eyre. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Starring William Hurt and Anna Paquin (1995)

Critical Reading
Jeffrey Sconce, from "Narrative Authority and Social Narrativity" (Norton 515-22)

Donna Marie Nudd, "The Pleasure of Intertextuality" (Norton 522-29)

*Brontë Papers Due*
22 October

Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

Critical Reading
Caroline Rody, "Burning Down the House: The Revisionary Paradigm of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea"

Dudley Andrew, "Adaptation"

*Fforde Papers Due*

29 October

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Chapters I-XXXVIII (9-235)

5 November

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Chapters XXXVIII-Conclusion (236-358)
“The Original Ending” (359)

Critical Reading
Hilary Schor, "In the Shadow of Satis House: The Woman’s Story in Great Expectations"

Peter Brooks, "Repetition, Repression, and Return: The Plotting of Great Expectations" (Norton 679-689)

Linda Raphael, “A Re-Vision of Miss Havisham: Her Expectations and Our Responses” (Norton 705-09)

Julian Moynahan, "The Hero's Guilt: The Case of Great Expectations" (Norton 654-63)

*Rhys Papers Due*

12 November

Peter Carey, Jack Maggs

Critical Reading
Alex Woloch, "Partings Welded Together: The Character-System in Great Expectations"

19 November

Great Expectations on Screen

Great Expectations. Directed by David Lean (1947)

Great Expectations. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow (1998)

Critical Reading
Shari Hodges Holt, "Dickens from a Postmodern Perspective: Alfonso Cuarón's Great Expectations for Generation X"

Joss Marsh, "Dickens and Film"

"Not Telling the Story the Way It Happened"

*Dickens Papers Due*

26 November

Thanksgiving Holiday

*Carey and Jones Papers Due*
*All Annotated Bibliographies Due*

3 December

Lloyd Jones, Mr. Pip

South Park, "Pip" episode [In Class]

Critical Reading
Jay Clayton, "Is Pip Postmodern?"

Jeffrey Sconce, "Dickens, Selznick, and South Park"

10 December

*Final Project Papers Due by 9:30 am, Thursday 10 December*

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