Honors | Tradition & Innovation in German Literature: Adaptation (HON)
H226 | 27408 | Marc Weiner


TuTh 9:30-10:45am

For a long time people have been arguing about which is better, the
book or the movie, and about other works -- literary or not -- that
provide the basis for another. We ask ourselves such questions as:
Should the first one count as some kind of ideal original, against
which any adaptation should be measured in terms of its adherence or
faithfulness to the original, or do we feel that later re-workings
should stand on their own or have the right to be judged by other
criteria? Which do we prefer -- the first work or the second, and
why? What do we take into consideration when responding to one
artistic form (say, a short story, poem, drama, or novel) that we
might not take into account when responding to another form? What is
the new formal possibilities illuminate some aspects of the original
story and/or the original form? Should we consider the different
time periods in which the different works were created, which open
up other issues such as the nature of their different audiences, or
are such considerations incidental? These are some of the questions
we will explore in the course of the semester.

With this in mind, the course has three goals: 1) to provide an
introduction to major artistic works of German-speaking Europe from
the late 18th century to the present day; 2) to examine how these
works have been adapted into other aesthetic forms; and 3) to
consider the questions we need to ask when looking at them. We will
be looking at poems, short stories, novellas, dramas, and novels,
and their transformations when their major features (plot,
character, mood, structure, etc.) reappear when re-used in other
guises. For the most part, the transformations in question will
concern literature into film, but also into other aesthetic forms --
oratorio, opera, ballet, and music video. In order to understand the
various questions that pertain to the transfer of one work into
another, we will also be reading some discussions on the process of
adaptation -- its pros and cons, questios of faithfulness or
distortion, the new possibilities of stories told through different
means and others.

All texts will be read in English translation. No knowledge of
German is required. No credit given in German Studies. The course
counts toward the College's distribution requirement in the Arts and
Humanities.