English 583: Special Topics in World Literature
Professor C. Allen
Title: Indigenous Literature and/as Film: Adaptation, Marketing,
and the Consumption of Native Images
COURSE POLICIES & SYLLABUS
Over the past decade, literary works by indigenous writers - American Indian, Aboriginal Australian, Canadian First Nations, New Zealand Maori - have been adapted into feature-length films for the North American, European, and international markets. In this course we will explore a number of these adaptations in order to investigate several key issues in indigenous literary and film studies and in adaptation theory.
Other short readings on Electronic Reserve
Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (Atlantic Monthly Books)
Alexie, Smoke Signals: The Screenplay (Hyperion)
Duff, Once Were
Ihimaera, The Whale Rider (Harcourt)
Pilkington, Rabbit-Proof Fence (Hyperion)
Films to be Viewed in Class
Smoke Signals (Miramax)
Once Were Warriors (Fine Line)
Rabbit-Proof Fence (Miramax)
Recommended Indigenous Films
The Fast Runner (Inuit) Ngati (Maori)
Skins (American Indian)
The Business of Fancy Dancing (American Indian)
Naturally Native (American Indian)
The Doe Boy (American Indian)
Books on Reserve
Berkhofer, The White
Man's Indian: Images of the American Indian from
Braudy and Cohen, ed., Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory
* includes assigned essay by Chatman
Cartmell and Whelehan, ed., Adaptations: From Text to Screen, Screen to Text (1999)
Goldie, Fear and Temptation: The Image of the Indigene in Canadian, Australian, and New
Kilpatrick, Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film (1999)
McFarlane, Novel To Film: An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation (1996)
Naremore, ed., Film Adaptation (2000)
* includes assigned essays by Andrew and Stam
Singer, Wiping the War Paint off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (2001)
* includes assigned Forward by Robert Warrior
1. Class Participation. 20%
Students will be rewarded for actively contributing to class discussions and for listening
attentively, as well as for coming to class on time, well prepared, and with a positive
attitude. In addition, the participation grade will include in-class writing assignments.
2. Discussion Teams. 30%
Each student will sign up to be part of a Discussion Team for one class period.
Discussion Teams are responsible for 1) Meeting outside of class to coordinate their
research efforts and to discuss their plans for leading class discussion; 2) Conducting
relevant research on the text or texts they are responsible for, including book and film
reviews, articles or web sites that provide background information about the authors,
filmmakers, cast members, and/or characters depicted in the books and films, as well as
any other relevant scholarship from books, articles, or web sites; 3) Presenting relevant
information to the class; 4) Preparing a prompt for a brief in-class writing assignment on
the assigned text(s) to help set up class discussion; 5) Directing the class's attention to
specific passages or scenes in the assigned texts and posing useful questions for class
discussion. In addition, 1) each Team should prepare a 1 - 2 page handout to give to the
class that includes a bibliography of relevant sources and the Team's major observations,
arguments, and/or questions about the text or texts, and 2) each Team member should
turn in a 1 page account of her or his participation in the Discussion Team. Discussion
Teams should plan enough material and questions to cover about an hour or so of
class time. Team members will be graded individually.
3. Final Project Proposal. 1 page. 10%
4. Final Project. 5 - 7 pages. 40%
Option A: Based on the primary and secondary texts we have read and viewed for class,
as well as your own research, develop a theory for adapting indigenous literary texts into
film. Provide a full list of Works Cited that follows MLA style guidelines.
Option B: Choose one of the literary/film pairings assigned for class and analyze the
effectiveness of the adaptation. Make sure you define what you mean by an "effective"
adaptation. Support your analysis and argument with close readings as well as relevant
research, and provide a full list of Works Cited that follows MLA style guidelines.
Option C: Compare two of the adaptations we read and viewed for class. Which
adaptation do you think is more effective, and why? Make sure you define what you
mean by an "effective" adaptation. Support your analysis and argument with close
readings as well as relevant research, and provide a full list of Works Cited that follows
MLA style guidelines.
Option D: Create your own final project that is relevant to our readings, viewings, and
class discussions. Include a full list of Works Cited that follows MLA style guidelines.
You must have the instructor's approval to take this option.
Tues Introduction to course policies and syllabus.
In-class screening of film trailers.
1. Theorizing Adaptation
Thurs Read Chatman, "What Novels Can Do That Films Can't (And Vice
Versa)" (course pack), and handout on film terms.
Turn in list of top five choices for Discussion Teams.
Tues Read Andrew, "Adaptation" (course pack), Stam, "Beyond Fidelity:
The Dialogics of Adaptation" (course pack), and handout on Gerald
Vizenor's concept of the "postindian."
Mini-lecture: Introduction to Native
2. Postindians in the
Thurs Read Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.
Tues Read Warrior, "Forward" (course pack), and reviews of Smoke Signals
Web assignment: visit Alexie's web site at www.fallsapart.com.
In-class screening of Smoke Signals.
Thurs Read Alexie, Smoke Signals: A Screenplay.
Discussion of Smoke Signals.
3. Warriors and Whale Riders in
"Silence on Another Marae" (electronic reserve).
Mini-lecture: Introduction to Aotearoa/New Zealand and Maori culture.
Thurs Read Duff, Once Were Warriors.
Discussion Team #1: __________________________________________
Tues In-class screening of Once Were Warriors.
Thurs Discussion of Once Were Warriors.
Discussion Team #2: __________________________________________
Tues Read Ihimaera, "The Whale" (electronic reserve) and The Whale Rider.
Discussion Team #3: __________________________________________
Thurs In-class screening of Whale Rider.
Final Project Proposal due in class.
Tues Discussion of Whale Rider.
Discussion Team #4: __________________________________________
Thurs Comparative discussion: Once Were Warriors and Whale Rider.
Discussion Team #5: __________________________________________
4. Aborigines Go
Took the Children Away?"(electronic reserve).
Thurs Read Pilkington, Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Discussion Team #6: __________________________________________
Tues In-class screening of Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Thurs Discussion of Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Discussion Team #7: __________________________________________
Tues Comparative discussion: Smoke Signals, Once Were Warriors, Whale
Rider, Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Discussion Team #8: __________________________________________
Thurs Final projects due in class.
Final class discussion.