This module introduces undergraduate students to the fundamentals of adaptation. The three activities and two assignments should allow students to encounter various adaptations of King Lear, to put these adaptations into conversation with each other and Lear, and to create their own adaptations of the Lear story. After mastering these skills, students can use the service learning exercise in this module to introduce middle or high schoolers to the basics of adaptation.
The goal of this module is for students to gain a greater appreciation of how adaptations can give us deeper insight into a source text by allowing us to see what different authors, filmmakers, and other creators—as well as different audiences—have valued in a narrative over time. Studying adaptation also offers us a lens for exploring how stories are changed to accommodate different circumstances, how views on things such as race, gender, and class (among others) change according to historical and national context, and what role these contexts can play in shaping how and why we tell a particular story in the way that we do.
To that end, there are some terms and concepts that will be especially important for students to learn:
As a supplement to this module, we have digitized Nahum Tate’s 1681 adaptation of the play, The History of King Lear (see Digital Texts). The exercises in this module would also work well with the following adaptations of Lear: House of Strangers (Mankiewicz, 1949, Film); King Lear (McCullough, 1953, TV movie); Broken Lance (Dmytryk, 1954, Film); King Lear (Brook, 1971, Film); Ran (Kurosawa, 1985, Film); King Lear (Godard, 1987, Film); A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (1991, Novel); A Thousand Acres (Moorhouse, 1997, Film); My Kingdom (Boyd, 2001, Film); King of Texas (Edel, 2002, TV movie); Empire (Fox Network, 2015—, TV series).
King Lear Detail from Mardi Gras poster, featuring twenty Mystick Krewe of Comus floats representing a total of eighteen Shakespeare plays (1898). LUNA: Folger Digital Image Collection. Digital Image File Name: 119628. The Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection.
|Chera Kee is an Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies in the English Department at Wayne State University where she teaches courses on film and media history, horror, censorship, and adaptation. Her book, Not Your Average Zombie: Rehumanizing the Undead from Voodoo to Zombie Walks, was published by the University of Texas Press (2017), and her latest research delves into the ways that fans use intertextual references in adapting source texts into fan art and fan fiction.|