For your second fall term essay, you will be writing a comparative analysis of two versions of a story as they are told in different media, a practice commonly known as “adaptation.” The analysis will give you the opportunity to display your ability to analyze the ways that a particular medium of storytelling affects the story being told. To complete this assignment, you will need to do the following:
Find a story that has been told in two different media. Media would include books, films, television series, comic books/graphic novels, live theater, poems, visual art, and songs. The story might not have the exact same title and/or the story could be significantly altered (e.g., modern versions of Romeo and Juliet or the Odyssey) but it should generally be regarded by critics and creators as an adaptation. If you are uncertain as to whether your examples qualify, ask your tutorial leader.
Guidelines for Story Choice (there is some latitude for exceptions here so ask your tutorial leader if you are interested in something that might fall outside these categories):
a. One version must be from one of the following media:
2. Short Story
3. Graphic Novel/Comic Book
b. The other version must be from one of the following media:
3. Live Theater (you can use a recorded version of a live performance)
4. Painting/Visual Art
5. Dance/Ballet (you can use a recorded version of a live performance)
7. Digital Game
c. At least one version of the story must have been published/released/performed before 1970. The other example must have been published/released/performed between 1970-2000.
d. As with the first assignment, both versions of your story must not be primarily written/directed/composed for children (e.g., no fairy tales, children’s cartoons, etc.).
e. The story must be fictional. It can be based on real events or people but must be commonly regarded as a work of fiction.
Steps for Writing the Essay:
1. Watch/read/listen to both versions of the story and make notes regarding the ways that they are different using the components of pentadic analysis:
Act—how do the events in each version differ? Are there some events left out of one version of the story but included in another? How is the depiction of events different?
Agent—how are characters developed in each version? Are their substantial differences in characterization? If you are dealing with a film/book comparison, do the actors match the written descriptions? Does one version give you greater access to the psychology of the characters?
Scene—are their significant changes in location, time period, national/cultural context, or other factors related to the scene within the narrative? How do the two media present various spaces and places relevant to the story differently?
Agency—do the two versions of the story provide similar accounts of how actions are completed? Is the presentation of technology or supernatural powers (both important forms of agency) identical or are their differences in the ways that such aspects of agency are depicted?
Motive—How are the reasons behind the events in the story depicted in each version? Do they dedicate equal space in the narrative for concerns related to motivation/purpose or does one version offer more reflection on this aspect of the story?
2. Write an essay of 5-6 pages (1500-1800 words) that addresses the important differences in the two versions of the story and connects them to the characteristics of the particular medium in which they are told. For example, what things can a film do that a novel cannot and how does it apply to this particular case? You should also include some consideration of the meaning of the story as it appears in the two versions and examine whether there are any significant differences in thematic content of each version. External sources are not required but you may find it helpful to look at critical reviews of various versions of the story; if you use any information from such sources, please cite properly using an established citation system.
Some general tips for writing an excellent essay:
–be specific and use lots of examples
–always consider the significance of the medium in analyzing versions of the story
–depth is always important, so a focused analysis on a few major differences in versions of the story is always preferable to a simple list or catalog of all differences
–ask questions of the instructor and your tutorial leader if you need assistance
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