Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms


July 26th, 2014 · No Comments

I found Bortolotti and Hutcheon’s (2007) extremely compelling as it approaches a fairly commonplace topic in an academic and insightful way.  People are often employing fidelity discourse in their day-to-day lives, and with the multitude of movie remakes and book turned movies this is not going to end anytime soon.

I appreciate the interrogation of fidelity discourse, as I myself have often grumbled about movies not being “true enough” to the original – but why? We see the world in a very linear way, always seeking a point of origin and and moving from that place.  Many are, not so quietly, under the impression that the “original” is the truest form of a work, and any changes made in adaptations are perversions.  I love seeing these changes instead as adaptations.  It can be extremely useful to make comparisons between adaptations of the same work, but to hold them up beside one another and protest that one does not do a good enough job of mimicking the other is a complete waste of time.

I think that this discussion is relevant and worthwhile for so many reasons.  One issue that I see, having to do with the ELA classroom, is that the English discipline can be a hostile place.  “Oh, you haven’t read Brave New World? Strange.”  Intellectuals in this discipline are notorious for being snobby, and I myself notice that I hold back certain information for fear of being judged.  If I have not read a novel that everyone has read, I try to keep it to myself.  If I commit the cardinal sin of watching a movie before reading the book, I either remain quiet about it or blurt the embarrassing truth out apologetically.  There can be so much judgement in English, and there should not be. If my students want to engage critically with a movie, how is that any less valuable than engaging with a book?  If they want to creatively interpret or adapt a literary work, they should not be worried about stay “true to the original,” rather, they should be taking risks!

Bortolotti, G. and Linda Hutcheon. “On the Origin of Adaptations: Rethinking Fidelity Discourse and “Success”: Biologically.” New Literary History, Vol. 38, No. 3, Biocultures (Summer, 2007), pp. 443-458

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