Adaptation: From Beowulf to Barbie

A playwright rewrites a 500-year-old play to fit contemporary times. Another does the same thing with the same play 500 years later. A successful book becomes a Broadway musical, which becomes a movie. A movie is reimagined as a video game, and then a theme park ride. And so forth! In this course we’ll look at historical and contemporary examples of creative artists adapting material for their audiences.     

Along the way we’ll consider the criteria for a successful adaptation. Does it mean being completely faithful to the prior work? Or are there changes that make sense based on a change of medium or platform? This course includes reading and viewing adaptations, including field trips to see current movies, performances, and immersive events in the Seattle area. Projects involve research on an adaptation of students’ own choosing (past projects include Harry Potter, Jane Austen, Marvel and DC films and television shows, Tabletop Role Playing Games, Dolls and Action Figures, Anime and Manga, etc.). 

This course is for students who are interested in the ways popular culture and entertainment reflect the cultures in which they emerge. This course welcomes students from any discipline who are interested in gaining critical analytical and interpretation skills through the exciting emerging field of adaptation studies.

Learn more about the instructor of this course:

5 credits of Arts and Humanities coursework towards the Areas of Inquiry requirement.