HENB01484U English - Elective Subject, topic 4: The Fantastic in Literature: From Book to Film

Volume 2023/2024



The nineteenth century was a tumultuous age of transformation, where conceptions of space and time unravelled before people’s eyes. The development of railways and steamboats made it possible for Britons to travel great distances, and at speeds previously unimaginable. The construction of largescale telegraphic networks allowed for long-distance communication at the blink of an eye.  The advent of scientific theories such as Darwinian evolution and thermodynamics drastically changed the way people saw the natural world. There were so many new scientific theories and technologies that seemed to function by the use of invisible energies that ideas about the fantastic became rampant in cultural discourses. It was within this ever-changing social climate that interests in the occult, the gothic, wonderous, and the horrible flourished. This course will examine the historical context of ghost stories, creature fiction, high fantasy, and supernatural horror, and ask how different media – books, film, graphic novels, etc. – transform the extraordinary in adaptation. We will look at scientific and technological inspiration, Victorian occultists, and adaptation theory.

Core books: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Washington Irving, 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'; Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol; Lewis Caroll’s Alice in WonderlandRobert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu; L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine

Sessions are organized into three-part clusters (i.e., three classes). The first part will focus on a specific book, such as Frankenstein; the second part on adaptions of the book as films, graphic novels, podcasts, video games, etc.; and the third part will focus on historiographical interpretations and contextualization of the book. Some sessions will also be devoted to skills development. This will range from essay writing and oral presentation workshops to adaption theory and material and visual culture theories. Some weeks will also be devoted to preparations for the exams.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 84
  • Preparation
  • 325,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assesment