Literature and Film

Once we sit down in a darkened theater, we only rarely get up and leave before the movie is over. By contrast, when we read a novel, we put it down when we reach our T stop, when it’s time for lunch, when we drift off to sleep. Yet, like filmmakers, novelists can take control of our experience over the duration of their work. This is even more true when a story isn’t being told the way we might expect it—when events appear out of order, when a narrator can’t be trusted, when one story interrupts another. We’ll examine pairs of novels and films united by similar narrative techniques across the twentieth century: unreliable narrators; montage; and more. Whether to make a social point or to get an emotional response, storytellers in both forms have developed an impressive arsenal of formal devices to manipulate our experience of their material. How can the appearance of a style or technique in one medium illuminate its use in another?

Authors will likely include Conrad, Faulkner, Hemingway, Ngũgĩ, Woolf, and others; directors will likely include Coppola, Eisenstein, Kurosawa, Lee, Welles, and others.