Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Parallel novels"

As I just learned, while grading y'all's final papers: apparently there is a term for the genre that includes works like Indigo and A Thousand Acres.  It is "parallel novel."  We all knew this was a thing, in these fallen times of ours (but then, didn't James Joyce do it too?), but now it's an official genre.  More details here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coming soon: Almereyda and Hawke do Cymbeline

For those who just can't get enough of Ethan Hawke and Michael Almereyda... they're doing a Cymbeline!  Trailer and a bit of commentary here: http://screenrant.com/cymbeline-trailer-2014/

Will be interesting to see how they do this less-commonly-adapted play.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Othello CSI

·      Produced by Masterpiece Theater
·      First shown in 2002 on PBS
·      Set during Tony Blair’s administration
o   Had a government highly concerned with its own image
·      Screenplay by Andrew Davies
o   Changes the setting to New Scotland Yard in 1990s London
o   Originally wanted to modernize the Tempest, was told he must chose a tragedy, went to get a drink, had the idea to make Othello Police Commissioner

·      Othello, by William Shakespeare
o   Othello is a Moor married to Desdemona
o   Othello promotes Cassio instead of Iago, prompting Iago’s rage
o   Iago takes Desdemona’s handkerchief and plants it among Cassio’s belongings to convince Othello his wife is not loyal
o   Othello convinces Roderigo to attack Cassio
o   Othello smothers Desdemona
o   Othello finds out about Iago’s involvement and hurts but doesn’t kill him
o   Iago and Othello are arrested
o   Othello commits suicide
o   Cassio is ordered to punish Iago
·      The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, a documentary
o   a black teenager was murdered by racist thugs in 1993
o   the original investigation was bungled
o   nobody was successfully prosecuted
o   the police were deemed institutionally racist
o   Ever since then the police have been making huge efforts to clean up their image, but there hasn’t been an increase in the number of black and Asian-origin policemen being promoted into high positions
·      Richard III, a movie version by Laurence Olivier
o   Lets the villain, Urquhart, talk directly to the audience
o   Inspires Davies to do the same with Jago

Othello –
·      simplified and characters changed
o   Othello is a black police officer married to Dessie
o   Prime Minister promotes Othello instead of Jago, prompting Jago’s rage
o   Othello gives Jago his bathrobe to test for Cass’s DNA
o   Othello attacks Cass
o   Jago tells Othello that Cass’s DNA is on the bathrobe
o   Othello smothers Dessie
o   Othello finds out about Jago’s involvement and tells him to leave
o   Othello commits suicide
o   Iago is promoted to Othello’s position
·      Dessie falls in love with Othello after interviewing him, hearing his story
·      Othello’s bathrobe is the same as Desdemona’s handkerchief, but Dessie gives Othello the bathrobe
·      Othello does not overlook Jago, but he steals a job that Jago badly wants
·      Roderigo and Brabantio don’t exist or aren’t present onstage
·      Jago tells Cass that Dessie and Othello aren’t in love, that they have a stage marriage (Cass then flirts with Dessie and says he fancies her)
·      Lulu (Emilia) suspects Jago, but never speaks up
·      Othello smothers Dessie almost killing her, before he kills her entirely
·      Jago gets away without anyone realizing his involvement

Stephen Lawrence –
·      made older and more innocent
o   The Police Commissioner is recorded making racist remarks and is forced to resign
o   Police raid the home of Billy Coates, a middle aged black man, while looking for drugs
o   Billy taunts the officers
o   Three officer proceed to beat Billy to death
o   A fourth, younger officer stands by in shock
o   People riot, and Othello gives a speech to calm them, promising justice
o   Othello is promoted to the position of police commissioner
o   Jago convinces the fourth officer to be a witness in court
o   The night before the trial, Jago gets the officer drunk, knowing he will take sleeping pills and die
o   Without a witness, the trial results in no convictions
·      Other officers scorn the fourth officer, showing how racist the department is
·      Othello delivers an eloquent speech to the public, like his speech to the senate in Shakespeare (in both, he later descends into a more crude individual)
·      Similar to Trayvon Martin case, where George Zimmerman was not convicted
·      Jago is racist (we know because says so during multiple asides in the movie)
o   He uses the racists officers on trial to get in touch with some neo-nazis who he asks to attack Dessie and scare Othello into assigning Cass to protect her

An Interview with Andrew Davies

CSI "The Hamlet of the Shchigrovsky District"


·       Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev
o   1818-1883
o   Born in Orel/Oryol, capital of a province of that same name in Central Russia
o   Mother was a rich landowner
o   Objected to his mother’s treatment of household serfs
o   Studied the faculty of History and Philology at the University of St. Petersburg
o   Admired Alexander Pushkin
o   Studied for a time in Germany (1838), from then on he spent very little time Russia
o   Sympathized with the lower class
o   Met and had a somewhat tempestuous relationship with Tolstoy
o   Was an advocate of Westernization
o   Fathers and Sons
§  1862, his masterpiece
§  deals with nihilist philosophy and issues of both personal and social rebellion
o   “Was a critic of his own generation’s Hamletism and of the fundamental injustice of serfdom on which Russian society was based.”
·       Sketches from a Hunter’s Album/A Sportsman’s Sketches
o   Originally published in the Russian journal The Contemporary between 1847 and 1851
o   After they were published in a separate edition Turgenev was arrested and exiled to his estate of Spasskoye
o   About the rural world of Russia before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861
·       Hamlet of the Shchigrovsky District
o   A study in the “Hamletism” of Turgenev’s generation
o   Turgenev refers to the Hamlet character as being at the “extreme limit of unhappiness.”
o   His self-indulgence is the tragedy
§  “…reflects the tragic loss of illusions and fond hopes experienced by Turgenev’s generation as a whole” (Penguin 11)
§  “His [the Hamlet’s] final reconciliation is in its own way as bitter an acceptance of social inequality and complete obliteration of individuality as is the peasant’s subservience to his master.” (Penguin 11)
·       Shchigrovsky District
o   In the Kursk Oblast (federal subject) of Russia
o   Western Russia
o   Part of the steppes


·        La Coupe et les Lèvres (The Cup and the Lips) – Aflred de Musset
o   Mon verre n’est pas grand, mais je bois dans mon verre
§  My cup is not large but I drink from it
·       Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences
o   Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
o   Purpose of the encyclopedia is to describe how spirit or mind develops itself
·       Das Lied von der Glocke
o   Johann Christoph von Schiller
§  Friends with Goethe


·        “In the first place, I speak French as well as you, and German even better; secondly, I have spent three years abroad…”
o   -Boastful (not afraid praise himself as intellectual, even smarter than other people)
·        “…and was married at home to a consumptive lady, who was bald but a remarkable personality”
·      “And, too, strange to say, I liked Sofya best of all when I was sitting with my back to her, or still more, perhaps, when I was thinking or dreaming about her in the evening on the terrace.”
o   -X’s love is never obvious, similar to Hamlet’s love of Ophelia, especially when he knows that Claudius and Polonius are watching
·       “I remember how they buried her. It was in the spring. Our parish church was small and old…”
o   -Sofya’s funeral is not a big ordeal, similar to Ophelia’s. The only people who truly attend it are those of the lower class (clowns/grave-diggers)
·       “It is only [after her death] that I do her complete justice. It’s only now, for instance, that memories of some evenings I spent with her before marriage no longer awaken the slightest bitterness, but move me almost to tears”
o   -Like Hamlet, is somewhat blind to the present and is only truly remorseful after the fact.

·        X’s mother, like Gertrude, does all that she can for him but it isn’t quite enough

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fordier and Fischlin

What makes a (good) adaptation?
·         Evolution of adaptations, what time period took on what role with adaptations?
o   1700’s the plays were called imitations, alterations-historically limited
o   Adaptation, addition of scenes, implies new is better than old
o   Spinoffs- Hollywood tradaptations- language
o   Is there a decent label to put on these texts?
o   Appropriation, off shoot, ripoff… whats the proper word? Does it even matter? Are they synonymous?
·         What makes the adaptation good?
o   Does it have to be effective in conveying an image to the target audience? Are there strictly personal gains to each adaptation? Is there one, underlying intention of the adaptations, or is there no specific intention.
o   What makes adaptations of Shakespeare still desirable after 400 years? \
o   Is there a theatrical aspect to all adaptations?
§  Adaptations are the theatrical practices with intertextual experiences b/c theater must interpret the ambiguities, they must be biased and one sided
o   What defines the effectiveness of an adaptation
·         Who can make a good adaptation? Or rather, are there specific qualities that people can have to make a good adaptation (i.e. strong beliefs, extensive knowledge of Shakespeare)
o   Does a person have to be a Shakespeare expert to use him? Or can a decent and effective adaptation come from someone who has a vague understanding of Shakespeare but is driven by a personal motive. Does the personal motive need to exist?
·         There are many types of adaptations, but most of them can be separated into two general categories
o   An idea of Shakespeare is expanded upon, taking the little to no textual evidence present in the play and adapting it to the author’s whims, keeping the characterizations the same, or as close as possible
§  Harlem Duet, A Tempest, Al-hamlet summit
o   The characterizations and scenes of Shakespeare are manipulated by the author and changed in order to better suit the adaptation i.e. make dimensionless characters have some aspect of a character etc. Basically, taking nothing and making something using “Shakespeare’s” eye
§  Goodnight Desdemona, Goodmorning Juliet, Desdemona: A Play about a Handkerchief
o   Is one better than the other? Does it depend on the work it is appropriating? Does it depend on the specific message?
o   The context is extremely important in understanding the adaptation because the adaptation itself reflects on why the author wrote, what pressures he or she wrote it on and what the world was like when the appropriation was made. i.e. political Shakespeare’s, feminist Shakespeare’s etc.
·         Intertextuality
o   How much intertext is necessary in each adaptation, is it right to manipulate it and contort it in any way you see fit?
o   The struggle between the original and the adaptation, the adaptation falls under copyright protection and can be considered the author’s work while Shakespeare has no copyright. Is this fair?
·         Every act of interpretation requires critical reading
·         Shakespeare has been used as modes of crossing, gaping and articulation between media as well as nations. What gives the texts these abilities?
Background Information from the article
·         It was a common practice to imitate the classic authors without acknowledgement almost like it was glorified to be a master imitator back in Shakespeare’s time
·         The source of Shakespeare’s writing can never be fully determined because there were many indirect translations that he would have adapted from, when now it is well known what source the adaptations come from.
·         Shakespeare represents the idea of the imperialistic England, his story seems to be able to represent the history of England up to 300 years. The idea that his message are elastic.

·         The idea of Shakespeare will continue to flourish because of the already crazy adaptations, Shakespeare can be adapted to modern forms as well. Such as the disco ball version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream