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The Assignment: The objective of this assignment is to get you thinking in detail about the ongoing relevance of 19th-century fiction to our contemporary moment. Your task in this assignment is to adapt a scene from Pride & Prejudice by translating it into a contemporary cultural context and idiom. Successful exercises will display an understanding of the significance of the language, manners, characterization, and social interactions represented in the original text, and will translate those into a believably 21st century, culturally-specific context; they will demonstrate clearly and persuasively how historically-distant literature not only continues to matter, but may help us better understand the social and cultural realities of our own age.
Step One: Choose a passage from Pride & Prejudice. The passage should ideally be no more than 2-3 pages in length in the original text. Re-write the scene by imagining it in a different social context in a contemporary moment. You may change any facets of the original passage to facilitate your adaptation: character names or occupations; gender, race, or sexual orientation; location or setting; dialogue. Your modernized scene, though, must retain the broad plot structure and character function of the original: it must be recognizable as an adaptation. Your main objective is to imagine how the novel would be transformed if it were set in a contemporary context; creativity in your adaptation will be welcome.
Be sure that you understand how the original passage works, how the scene is focalized, who narrates, what happens, and what¡¯s significant about what happens or is said, before deciding how to re-write it. You will want to give some thought to your choice of passage: the original should be self-contained enough to stand on its own, and include enough plot points for you to work with in the adaptation. You may choose to condense a slightly longer original passage by focusing on one aspect of its plot or situation, but try not to go too much beyond 3 pages in length in order to keep it manageable. Please include a photocopy or transcription of the original passage with your adaptation, and note its chapter and page number.
Step Two: Once you have re-written the passage, write an analysis of your adaptation. Attach to your adaptation a maximum 3-page (typed, double-spaced) analysis of the effects of your updating of the narrative. Consider some of the following questions to guide your analysis: How does a modern context for the passage change our understanding of the scene, and perhaps of the novel as a whole? Which facets of the narrative adapted most readily to a contemporary setting, and which ones were harder (or impossible) to translate? What insight does your novel provide into our contemporary moment and its characteristic manners, cultural concerns, gender or race (or any other) politics, forms of inequality or injustice, forms of self-expression or identity? What insight does your contemporary adaptation provide into the original text, and the significance of the author’s narrative and representational choices?