Month: August 2015

On Ruined Film Adaptations (NeMLA 2016)

Ally Carter offers a look at the ekphrastic challenges moving from text to screen. 

My conference preparations for both the Modern Language Association and the Northeast Modern Language Association have been keeping me busy, including one call for papers I have for the session “Ruined! On Failed Adaptations from Page to Screen” that I’m co-organizing with Emily Lauer at Suffolk County Community College. 

(Shameless plug: submit your abstracts about failed film, TV, and online adaptations of books, short stories, and more here before September 30!)

As we’re developing the panel, Emily forwarded me this post by the author of Heist Society, Ally Carter, regarding the challenges of adapting content from text to screen. 

Carter points out that “no film adaptation has ever changed one word of a novel–that the novel is and will always be the same”—primarily because of the larger number of participants in the process of making a film (director, producers, studios) than the number of participants in the process of writing a book (author, editor). 

To clarify her point, Carter uses the analogy that adapting a book to a film is like the chemistry cooking. For example, if you are adapting Harry Potter for film, you can change the recipe in some spots, such as replacing pecans with walnuts (changing a character’s age, an actor who varies just slightly in appearance, a minor change of location) and still have a quality product that satisfies most of the reasonable expectations. But you can’t replace baking soda with baking powder (replacing one character of a certain age and gender with another one due to studio dictates) and expect the result to be successful: 

I guess the key question is this: “Will this change impact other aspects of the story?”

Will this change the chemistry?

“We found a great young actress for Hermione but she doesn’t need braces.”

—Walnut Change

“We decided to set Hogwarts in Ireland instead of Scotland.”

–Walnut Change (an unnecessary change, but a Walnut Change nonetheless)

“We decided to give Harry a spunky kid brother because there was a kid brother in Jurassic World and everyone loves a kid brother.”

–Baking Soda Change

Read the rest of Carter’s argument here, and consider it as you work on your abstracts by the September 30th deadline!

“Developments in Comics Pedagogy” (MLA 2016): Roundtable Panelists and Abstracts

I am proud to announce the line-up for the roundtable “Developments in Comics Pedagogy” that I am co-organizing at the 2016 meeting of the Modern Language Association in Austin, Texas. The session will take place on Friday, January 8, at 8:30 AM, and will feature a lively discussion among eight scholars and teachers on the innovative practices they use in the classroom to teach with comics in a variety of disciplines and courses. This roundtable is an opportunity for our panelists to share their creative approaches to teaching, with half of the allotted session time focused on discussion with audience members on their own innovative teaching practices with comics. We welcome attendees to engage with us during this discussion, as this session depends on significant audience participation.

Panelists’ bios are below, with abstracts summarizing their teaching practices.

 Thanks to our panelists for their contributions to the content and form of our roundtable. And thanks to Keith McCleary for outlining the goals for this roundtable and for co-organizing this project.