Texts for a "Literature and Film" course for pre-service teachers?I'm scheduled to teach a college course this fall for the first time, "Literature and Film," and would appreciate any suggestions...

Texts for a "Literature and Film" course for pre-service teachers?

I'm scheduled to teach a college course this fall for the first time, "Literature and Film," and would appreciate any suggestions of titles as well as any words of advice.

The course will mostly serve Secondary Education majors with a specialization in English. I would like to make the course relevant to them and cover at least some of the texts that they're likely to teach at the middle school and high school level, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Romeo and Juliet. Can you recommend more titles?

I've checked past discussions, including the following:


Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Expert Answers
creativethinking eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it's very important for prospective teachers and their future students to understand that, in its own way, film is literature. Too many teachers fall into the trap of studying a book and then watching the movie version "for fun" or "to compare the differences." If this is where film study ends, substandard pedagogy is being practiced. Film directors, like authors, make thousands of precise rhetorical choices as they create a story. It's important (and exciting!) to help students learn to "read" and interpret the images, sounds, and words within a film just as they might seek out figurative language or style and syntax within a novel. I've used Michael Bay's The Island, Tim Burton's Big Fish, Vincent Ward's What Dreams May Come, and Mark Forster's Stranger than Fiction effectively to explore visual language, rhetorical choices, symbols, and theme in film. (Big Fish is also a novel by Daniel Wallace).

Best of luck in what will no doubt be a wonderful new class for students and instructor alike!

James Kelley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This Literature and Film course is proving to be one of the most enjoyable courses that I have taught. We've read some very widely taught short stories, plays, and novels -- The Fall of the House of Usher, A Streetcar Named Desire, To Kill a Mockingbird, Their Eyes Were Watching God, etc.-- and watched the full-length films (during our course "lab" hours, with popcorn!). Everyone in the course (including me) has made clear progress in moving toward critically informed discussions of film adaptation or translation.

Some our recent homework assignments have included "spotting the shots" (in which students, using free internet clips of their favorite films, counted up the first twenty shots in a short sequence and identified the editing technique used to move from one shot to the next) and an analysis of the composition of individual film frames (in which students created screen shots from films of their choosing and wrote 100+ words on each as if it were a well structured painting).

Thanks again for all your help!

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I thought it might be helpful to you to provide some links to books and articles on this subject.  Here are a few:

[Open in new window]
[Open in new window]
[Open in new window]
[Open in new window]
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I just answered a question a while ago on Romeo and Juliet and the Baz Lhurman version. You might like to consider watching various films of Shakespeare's classics and getting your students to consider how they can use film to enhance students' understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's plays. So many teachers seem to think that just sitting students in front of a video will somehow make them learn something, whereas obviously more astute use of films is needed. Watching various productions of the same scene of a play, for example, is a great strategy that I have used, after asking students themself to stage it in groups. Then they analyse strengths and weaknesses of each, including their own, and what they add or contribute to the play.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I try to use both text and film to enhance my students' understanding, especially in harder texts. I, and my students, enjoy watching and reading Beowulf. Two distinct comparisons that emerge between the text and the movies are in the difference between light/dark and Christian/pagan as depicted in both the movie and the text.

Another text/movie combination that I use is Of Mice and Men. The movie enhances the characteristics of the characters in the novel providing a wonderful adaptation of the text.

The best thing about this is that the new Core Curriculum WANTS teachers to use other medias (movies, graphic novels, blogs) to enhance the text being read.


lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another angle for a class like this is to take a theme that a book and a movie have in common and explore how a movie and a book go about conveying that theme in different ways.  Or you could take an event in history and do the same.  I personally have had amazing success having my students read Night and then watch Life is Beautiful.  Both are haunting stories of the Holocaust, but tell the story in very different ways and yet ultimately have a lot of the same message to share about the resilience of the human spirit.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
One activity that you can use is to have your students choose a book that they really want to teach, select a movie version, and write a lesson plan incorporating the book and movie. It's harder than it seems at first. I remember one of my interns saying to me, "I didn't realize when I chose to show a movie that I would have to watch the movie six times!". With the shortage of time we have in our classes, we really need to use film wisely. It is not a babysitter or time filler. Our students need to understand that.
kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This sounds like an exciting opportunity! I would suggest utilising some 'film first, book later' texts (quality does vary of course!). My recommendations  would be both film versions of Brighton Rock along with Graham Greene's novel, and The Piano, film and novel by Jane Campion. Other 'book-then-film' ideas would be 1984, Atonement and War of the Worlds. I have a student writing a scholarship paper on Hitchcock's Rebecca and the Du Maurier novel.

James Kelley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thanks so much for all the suggestions.They're great and very helpful!

I had been hoping to have a structured first half of the semester (or less, depending on enrollment numbers) and to have students lead the actiivities and discussions in the second half. litteacher8's response gives me a clearer sense of how I might do exactly that. Thanks again!