Fall for 2015-2016
Literary history is the history of a series of adaptations, translations and mutations. As Linda Hutcheon has observed, drawing upon Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, “some stories,” like genes and adaptive mutations, clearly “have more ‘stability and penetrance in the cultural environment,’ . . . Stories do get retold in different ways in new material and cultural environments; like genes, they adapt to those new environments by virtue of mutation—in their ‘offspring’ or their adaptations. And the fittest do more than survive; they flourish.” (A Theory of Adaptation, 32). Many such stories seem to have no locatable origins in space or time. Others appear in specific moments and become pillars of cultural literacy, but their stability and penetrance is limited.
Taking Hutcheon’s observation as a point of departure, this seminar explores a series of adaptogenic narratives, told and retold over the centuries and across cultures, as they travel through literary history. This seminar also explores how relations between medium and message change as stories move from one cultural context to another. Throughout the semester we will examine multiple definitions and practices of “adaptation,” in order to study the cultural politics and critical methodologies that inspire the reimaginings and revisions of works of art in contemporary literature, film, and interactive media. This course is intended for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Readings and class discussions in Spanish and English. Cross-listed with Comparative Literature and Medieval Studies.
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