Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Film Studies Portal

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"Arrival" and Adaptation

The 2016 film ""Arrival"" and the novella on which it is based (Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, 1998) are wildly different from one another. In this course, half of us will read the story first, then watch the film, while the other half of the class will watch the movie first, then read the story. We will compare our reactions and discuss how the genre/medium affect adaptation choices. We will also talk about each work on its own merits, including a day with one of Signum's fine linguists on the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Creative Writing: Pitching Your Story

You've written an epic book or an incredible screenplay, but what comes next? In this module, we will discuss how to make your story irresistible to potential buyers and entice readers to pick up your book! Examining successful examples combined with my experience in attracting publishers and an agent, we will workshop your query letter, synopsis and blurb, before finessing your verbal pitch. Whether you are looking to a traditional writing deal or an indie career, this module will help you sell the sizzle in your narrative.
Precepted by Julian Barr.

Gojira, Then and Now

In this module, we will discuss two films of the Godzilla franchise -- the original 1954 Gojira and 2016's Shin Godzilla. After a quick overview of the franchise -- its numerous films and eras -- we'll look at the historical events that influenced each films' creation, as well as the central themes and motifs.
Precepted by Joshua Sosa.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Text, Translation, Film

Can Sir Gawain keep his honor without losing his head? This short classic of Middle English chivalric romance follows Gawain on a quest testing his heroism, social etiquette, sexual virtue, and existential sense of self. This course explores: first, the extraordinary history of the single, unique manuscript which preserves this poem (as it “slept” on a library shelf for 400 years, escaped destruction by fire, and was eventually rediscovered in the 19th century); second, the translations which brought this poem to a twentieth century readership – focusing in particular on J.R.R. Tolkien’s; and finally, the 2021 film by David Lowery.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

The Art of Adaptation

In order to dig into the fine art of adaptation, we'll study four short stories and films based on them:
1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (James Thurber’s 1939 story and Ben Stiller's 2013 film);
2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 story and David Fincher's 2008 film);
3. The story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” by Brian Aldiss (1969) and Steven Spielberg's movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001);
4. The story ""Sentinel of Eternity"" by Arthur C. Clarke (1951) and the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick with Clarke); we may also look at the novelisation of the film.

Using these works, we'll talk about what happens when a work moves from one genre to another, from one medium to another, from a solo project to a team work, from one audience to another, and more. We'll look at content changes, techniques, shifts of themes, and more.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

The Holy Grail: Malory and Monty Python

To achieve the Holy Grail, Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad and others must face formidable Black Knights, alluring temptresses, inscrutable hermits, and untold supernatural perils—in two works created five-hundred-and-five years apart.

“The Tale of the Sankgreal,” disseminated as part of Thomas Malory’s La Morte Darthur (1470) and the incontestable masterpiece of modern Arthurian cinema, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) are arguably the most popular and influential versions of this story from a twenty-first century standpoint. These contrasting visions of the Grail Quest also share striking and unexpected similarities in terms of plot, form, and tone. This course looks closely at Malory’s text and the Pythons’ oddly-faithful film reinterpretation, side by side. In so doing, we explore what Arthur, the Grail, and the Middle Ages mean to modern audiences, and how changes in form and context radically shape how stories are told and understood.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

"The Last of Us" in Adaptation

HBO’s new “The Last of Us” TV show (2023) is widely hailed as the best adaptation of a video game. “The Last of Us” video game (2013) tells the story of a cynical older man befriending a young girl during a zombie apocalypse. The game received praise for its subtle storytelling and strong characterizations. The lead creator of the game is also a showrunner and insisted that HBO remain faithful to the game. However, the show uses the freedom of TV to expand upon the backstories of characters. In this course, we will watch the TV show and play the video game simultaneously. We will then discuss how the genre/medium of each affects adaptation choices.

Note: Students do not need to have watched the show or played the game beforehand, but will need to have access to both. Students can also watch a walkthrough of "The Last of Us" in lieu of playing the game.
Precepted by Dominic Nardi.

Video Game Studies

Inviting students to share their delight in, and deepen their appreciation of, video games, we will discuss examples of the art, music, gameplay, and story from a range of influential titles. We will introduce and experiment with some of the theoretical frameworks that have been applied to video games as media objects and cultural artifacts. But mostly, we will enjoy learning more about the medium and the games we already love. Aside from links and selections shared throughout the module, Gabrielle Zevin's novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow will be the only required reading.
Precepted by Wesley Schantz.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].