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First-Year Seminar (101-6-24)


Great Adaptations


Ilana Vine Larkin

Meeting Info

University Hall 118: Mon, Wed 2:00PM - 3:20PM

Overview of class

Why do we feel the urge to return to and revise classic texts time and time again? Ourmodern moment is full of new versions of old stories, as evidenced by the popular musicalHamilton. What kinds of cultural work are these retellings doing? In this class, we will studycanonical works of nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature alongside modern-day adaptations that revise these texts, particularly with regards to race, gender, and sexuality. How do these adaptations tell us something about the priorities of our culture today? And how do such adaptations challenge our ideas about the meanings and practices of reading and rereading? From a queer adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and a feminist film version of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, to a dystopian sci-fi thriller re-imagining The Scarlet Letter, to the critically acclaimed Apple+ TV show, Dickinson, based on the life of Emily Dickinson, this class will examine what such adaptations reveal both about our current moment and our relationship to reading.

Class Materials (Required)

Texts include: Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850), Hillary Jordan's When She Woke (2011), Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868), Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig, 2019), selected poems of Emily Dickinson, episodes of Dickinson (Apple+, 2019), F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925), and Anna-Marie McLemore's Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix (2022).

Class Attributes

WCAS First-Year Seminar

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Reserved for First Year & Sophomore only