This semester I am teaching Literature to Film, and I’ve assigned the following Short Film Adaptation of a Poem in order to offer my students, who come to the class from all majors, a chance to engage with poetry in a way they haven’t before, through a multimodal project that connects to our upcoming visiting writers event in April.
Short Film Adaptation of a Poem
This project requires that you and a partner select a single poem from either Aracelis Girmay or Jenny Johnson, Centenary’s Spring 2017 visiting poets, and create a short film adaptation of it to screen to our class and then again at A Reading by Aracelis Girmay and Jenny Johnson on Wednesday, April 15th. In completing this project, you will use a free video editing software like Splice or a similar program to render and support the poem through images and sound.
In preparation for this project, students have watched:
- “The Sleepwalker” by Theodore Ushev, a film adaptation of Lorca’s “Romance Sonambulo.”
- Moving Poems by John Lucas and Claudia Rankine.
- Selections from Motionpoems
- Riding the Highline, a short film by poets Kai Carlson-Wee and Anders Carlson-Wee.
They have also had the good fortune of Skyping with Saara Myrene Raappana from Motionpoems and Kai Carlson-Wee, poet and filmmaker. This past Monday, the class also went over storyboarding, and actively created a short storyboard for their film adaptation, some of which I will share if the students give me permission.
The first drafts of these short films will be shown and critiqued in class next Monday, with final drafts screened at the reading by poets Aracelis Girmay and Jenny Johnson on Wednesday, April 12th.
This semester I started a Group Notes document in Google Drive, one for each of my classes. I created it so that students with learning differences would have built-in note-taking services; absent students could catch up on missed discussions; students could contribute insights they couldn’t, for whatever reason, share in class; students could add additional notes from their readings; and students wouldn’t lose their handwritten notes or have their typed notes lost in a computer crash.
For my Craft of Poetry class, it’s become a sort of playpen for our in-class writing exercises, where students can share their work and collaborate on things like lineation and formatting. It’s also incredibly easy to set up, and although I don’t yet have a majority of any three of my classes participating, the use of the resource by a few pioneering students has helped it gain some traction.
If my students give their permission and I can anonymize the contributors, I hope to share the documents in full after the Spring 2017 semester.
The following information comes directly from my Spring 2017 syllabus for ENG 2091: Literature to Film.
ENG 2091 Literature to Film Required Texts
You have five required texts for this course, which we will read prior to viewing their film adaptations.
- Albee, Edward. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? NAL, 2006. ISBN: 978-0451218599.
- Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Anchor, 1998. ISBN: 978-0385490818.
- Morrison, Toni. Beloved. Vintage, 2004. ISBN: 978-1400033416.
- Spark, Muriel. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2009. ISBN: 978-0061711299.
- Woolf, Virginia. Orlando (Annotated). Mariner Books, 2006. ISBN: 978-0156031516.
We will also read select essays and excerpts about the history, craft, and theory of film, available to you on Moodle.
A Note About Ordering Books
If you choose not to order from the university bookstore, I encourage you to consider ordering books directly from the publisher. Cutting out the middleman helps ensure that publishers and authors are treated fairly in the transaction. You can also make a difference with your book purchase by placing a special order with a local or regional bookstore, like Labyrinth Books in Princeton or Black Dog Books in Newton; an independent bookstore with online ordering, like Powell’s or Strand Bookstore; or a philanthropic independent seller like Better World Books.
Reserve Texts at Taylor Memorial Library
All of our literary and cinematic texts are available, sometimes in other editions, through Course Reserves at Taylor Memorial Library, except for The Handmaid’s Tale (1990) film and The Handmaid’s Tale (2017) television series. In order to access these materials, go to the main desk in the library and request to use them in the library.
We will screen the five feature-length films in class, and several other Lit to Film adaptations:
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Director: Mike Nichols.
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). Director: Ronald Neame.
- The Handmaid’s Tale (1990). Director: Volker Schlondoff.
- Moving Poems by John Lucas and Claudia Rankine
- Orlando (1992). Director: Sally Potter.
- Beloved (1998). Director: Jonathan Demme.
- The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu TV series (2017).