ICFA presentation on “Teaching Adaptation”

Last weekend, I was part of a roundtable at ICFA in Orlando on the topic “Teaching Adaptation”, along with my colleagues Rachel Dean-Ruzicka, Amanda Madden and Doris Bremm. It was early in the morning on Thursday and so there was a fairly small crowd, but I felt that the discussion we had was fascinating.

This is the Prezi I used for my part of the roundtable ( this is the only record I have of my presentation, since I just spoke extemporaneously and didn’t write a script of my remarks). For my section of the roundtable, I discussed an assignment I gave my students earlier this semester, in which I asked them to analyze a comics page we had not discussed in class. In addition, I asked them to redraw that page in a different style, and to compare the original page with their redrawn version. (This is a sort of “adaptation” from one medium to the same medium.) I was careful to specify that the students would *not* be graded on the quality of their artwork, because this was not a studio art class. Instead, they would be graded on how effectively they used their drawings to prove the arguments of their essays.

One example of these redrawn comics pages is reproduced in the Prezi (with the student’s permission). This student redrew the first four pages of Sandman #32, featuring part one of “A Game of You.” Her argument was that in the original version of the pages, there is a sharp distinction between the dreamworld and reality, a distinction which is deconstructed as “A Game of You” goes on. Gaiman and McManus graphically demonstrate this by using different types of word-image relations in the pages that depict dream and in those that depict reality. In the “dream” pages, the words have nothing to do with the images; dialogue balloons are not connected to the characters who speak them. In the “reality” pages, words are clearly connected to their speakers. In the student’s version of the sequence, she changed this and drew the “dream” pages in the style used for the “reality” pages. I included this student project in my Prezi because I felt it was an exemplary piece of work, both at the level of the illustration and at the level of the ideas behind it.

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