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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - French

Undergraduate Course: Literature and Film: The Challenge of Adaptation (ELCF10064)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course offers an in-depth study of the theory and practice of film adaptation. It provides students with the opportunity to think about the challenges involved in transposing a literary text into film, and to analyse the rich and varied approaches to adaptation of a range of celebrated directors from Jean-Luc Godard to Julian Schnabel.
Course description Since the beginnings of modern cinema, literature and film have mutually inspired one another. From the Surrealists to the Nouvelle Vague and beyond, many directors have taken fiction as a starting point for their visual works. This course will provide an in-depth analysis of the interface between the two media. We will examine various types of literary adaptations and assess the strategies and negotiations involved in the move from text to film. Taking into account broader issues of adaptation theory, we will also consider the economics of adaptation, the specificity of the two media literature and film, and the cinematic translation of literary texts into different temporal and cultural contexts. Seminars will be based on a selection of French films ranging from the New Wave to the twenty-first century. Topics for discussion will include the question of "faithfulness" to a source text; the translation of thought, point of view and interiority to the screen, and the different "language" of text and film.

No prior knowledge of film studies is needed to take this course. Seminars will be interactive, with ample opportunity for group work and discussion.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: French 2 Literature and Culture (ELCF08012) AND French 2 Language (ELCF08013)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Entry to Honours in French
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  18
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) ***100% Coursework***

1 x 1800 word essay (60%)
1 x in-class presentation (20%)
1 x class participation (20%)
Feedback The feedback given to you throughout the course is designed to help you improve your future work: you will be given both formative and summative feedback. Your tutor will offer regular formative feedback on in-class discussions and groupwork, as well as summative feedback on your in-class presentation, your end-of-course essay, and your engagement with the course more generally.
You are also encouraged to highlight specific aspects you would particularly like to have feedback on. During the course, your tutor will take time to invite feedback about the course, and to give feedback on progress thus far. From week 8 onwards (or earlier if you wish), you will be able to discuss an essay plan and/or ideas for your essay in time for the feedback to be useful for your end-of-course essay submission.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To demonstrate an advanced knowledge of a range of sources in their socio-historical and cultural contexts as well as a good understanding of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks needed to analyse them
  2. To select and apply relevant theoretical and methodological approaches in their critical evaluation of film and to demonstrate mastery of relevant technical terminology and research methods
  3. To assess and synthesise primary and secondary sources and to engage critically with these sources, showing awareness of nuance and accommodating ambiguities
  4. To construct coherent arguments which engage effectively with the sources and the relevant contexts and to present them with a high level of clarity in both oral and written form
  5. To demonstrate autonomy and initiative in their activities, carry out independent research under the guidance of the tutor, and to show awareness of their own and others¿ roles and responsibilities as part of a team
Reading List
Films for Study
Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
Marcel Camus, Orfeu Negro (1959)
Jean-Luc Godard, Le Mépris (1963)
Claude Chabrol, Madame Bovary (1991)
Claude Berri, Germinal (1993)
Julien Schnabel, Le Scaphandre et le papillon (2007)

Bazin, André, 'Pour un cinéma impur. Défense de l'adaptation', in qu'est-ce que le cinéma ? (Paris : Les Editions du Cerf, 1999), pp. 81-106.
Bazin, André, 'Le 'Journal d'un curé de campagne' et la stylistique de Robert Bresson', in qu'est-ce que le cinéma ? (Paris : Les Editions du Cerf, 1999), pp. 107-27
Cartmell, Deborah and Imelda Whelehan, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Literature on Screen (Cambridge: CUP, 2007) (e-book)
---, Adaptations: From Text to Screen, Screen to Text (Routledge, 1999)
Cléder, Jean, 'L'Adaptation cinématographique', Fabula LHT,
Corrigan, Timothy, Film and Literature: An Introduction and Reader (Prentice Hall, 1998)
Dudley, Andrew, 'Adaptation', in Film Theory and Criticism, ed. by Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2004), pp. 461-469.
Hutcheon, Linda, A Theory of Adaptation (London: Routledge, 2006)
Leitch, Thomas, 'Adaptation Studies at a Crossroads', Adaptation, 1 (2008), 63-77
(available online:
McFarlane, Brian, Novel to Film: An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation (Oxford UP, 1996)
Sanders, Julie, Adaptation and Appropriation (Routledge, 2005)
Stam, Robert, Literature Through Film: Realism, Magic and the Art of Adaptation (Wiley-Blackwell, 2004)
Stam, Robert and Alessandra Raengo, eds., Literature and Film: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Film Adaptation (Wiley-Blackwell, 2004)
---, A Companion to Literature and Film (Wiley-Blackwell, 2004)
Truffaut, François, 'Une certaine tendance du cinéma français', Cahiers du cinéma, 31 (1954), 15-29
(available online:
Welsh, James M., and Peter Lev, eds., The Literature/Film Reader: Issues of Adaptation (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2007)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students will have further developed their skills in the areas of research and enquiry, personal and intellectual autonomy, communication, and personal effectiveness. For further specification of these skills see the university's graduate and employability skills framework at
KeywordsDELC Lit & Film
Course organiserProf Marion Schmid
Tel: (0131 6)50 8409
Course secretaryMiss Lizzy Irvine
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