Teaching Foreign Language Literature with the Use of Film Adaptation and the Problem of Medium Specificity

  • Artur SkweresEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


Film adaptations of literary works can be successfully used in foreign language literature classes to the advantage of students. This goal can be achieved through the discussion of the changes that occur when a novel is adapted to screen, with particular stress on the alterations stemming from media specificity. The present paper argues that students can be motivated in their research and that the use of film in the foreign language literature classroom can lead them to interesting conclusions concerning the source text. The article will also discuss the objections raised in the field of adaptation studies against fidelity criticism. Theorists have long called for the independence of film from the novel on which it is based, which could lead to abandonment of the notion of a film adaptation’s inferiority with regard to its source. A case will also be made for comparative analysis of film and its literary source material. Moreover, traits which are unique to the particular media and their influence on reception will be described. Finally, it will be argued that film can be used to facilitate deeper understanding of the works of foreign language literature, and to help students recognize new interpretations of literary works.


Electronic Medium Literary Work High Definition Adaptation Study Film Adaptation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. A talk with Hitchcock, Part 1.
  2. Baker, M. (1998). Encyclopedia of translation studies. London, New York: Routeledge.Google Scholar
  3. Boozer, J. (2008). Authorship in film adaptation. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cartmell, D. J., & Whelehan, I. (2005). Harry Potter and the fidelity debate. In M. Aragay (Ed.), Books in motion (pp. 37–49). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  5. Christie, I. L. (1969). Woman in love (Review). Sight and Sound, 39, 49–50.Google Scholar
  6. Elsaesser, T. (2002). Classical/post classical narrative (Die Hard). In T. Elsaesser & W. Buckland (Eds.), Studying contemporary American film. A guide to movie analysis (pp. 26–79). London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  7. Fiske, J., & Hartley, J. (2001). Reading television. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Hitchcock, A., & Gottlieb, S. (1995). Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected writings and interviews. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hutcheon, L. (2006). A theory of adaptation. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Kroeber, K. (2006). Make believe in film and fiction. Visual vs. verbal storytelling. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Leitch, T. (2007). Where are we going, where have we been? In J. M. Welsh & P. Lev (Eds.), The literature/film reader. Issues of adaptation (pp. 327–333). Plymouth, England: The Scarecrow Press.Google Scholar
  12. McFarlane, B. (2004). Novel to film. An introduction to the theory of adaptation. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  13. McFarlane, B. (2007). It wasn’t like that in the book… In J. M. Welsh & P. Lev (Eds.), The literature/film reader. Issues of adaptation (pp. 3–14). Plymouth, England: The Scarecrow Press.Google Scholar
  14. McLuhan, M. (1997). Address at vision 65. In E. McLuhan & F. Zingrone (Eds.), Essential McLuhan (pp. 20–221). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. McLuhan, M. (1997). The Gutenberg Galaxy. In E. McLuhan & F. Zingrone (Eds.), Essential McLuhan (pp. 90–145). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. McLuhan, M. (1997). Understanding media. In E. McLuhan & F. Zingrone (Eds.), Essential McLuhan (pp. 146–177). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 1937 from
  18. Pierzchała, A. (2005). Obcość przezwyciężona? Film japoński a kultura europejska [Otherness conquered? Japanese film and European culture]. Kraków: Universitas.Google Scholar
  19. Płażewski, J. (2001). Historia filmu [History of film]. Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza.Google Scholar
  20. Semonche, J. E. (2007). Censoring sex: A historical journey through American media. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  21. Sontag, S. (1974). Film and theatre. In G. Mast & M. Cohen (Eds.), Film theory and criticism: Introductory readings (pp. 362–374). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Stam, R. (2000). Beyond fidelity: The dialogics of adaptation. In J. Naremore (Ed.), Film adaptation (pp. 54–76). NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Stam, R. (2008). Introduction: The theory and practice of adaptation. In R. Stam & A. Raengo (Eds.), Literature and film: A guide for the theory and practice of film adaptation (pp. 1–52). Malden: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  24. The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 (Hays Code).
  25. Welsh, J. M. (2007). Introduction: Issues of screen adaptation: What is truth? In J. M. Welsh & P. Lev (Eds.), The literature/film reader. Issues of adaptation (pp. xiii–xxviii). Plymouth: The Scarecrow Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Adam Mickiewicz UniversityKaliszPoland

Personalised recommendations