My Personal Benefit from the Ackland Art Museum – Jonathan Burch

While battling my way through the wall of rain and dodging hidden water mines, I couldn’t help but think “should I skip today?”.  After much, much thought, I decided I will go to the Ackland Art Museum but only to keep my perfect attendance for the extra credit.  It never once came to my mind that I might actually enjoy this experience at the art museum?.  However, following the tours from both of our guides, I was surprisingly very pleased and intrigued by what we were shown.  I knew that adaptations could take the form of paintings and pictures, but I never actually observed one myself.   Between the two tours, I was able to dive deep into the painting and analyze what the story was trying to say.  The two paintings that seemed to adapt the original and best portray a story were the paintings we saw upstairs adapting the famous “Adam and Eve” narrative. 

The paintings adapting “Adam and Eve” may have been the most intriguing to me simply because they were taking ideas from a story I already knew.  However, even if this was not the case, I think these works of art still depicted the most meaning.  The first “Adam and Eve” painting appeared to tell the entire biblical story.  I felt that anyone could look at the painting and at least get the general idea of “Adam and Eve”.  The second adaptation considerably changed the original work with the exclusion of Adam and the portrayal of Eve with a darker skin tone.  Even though the story here is much different, it offers a very strong meaning relating to African culture and their interpretation of the Bible. 

Overall, my experience at the Ackland Art Museum taught me to look for the underlying meaning of visual art while also analyzing for potential adaptations of different works.  Without this class at the art museum, I would likely have continued to quickly glance at artwork and only admire their appearances. 

My Experience at the Wilson Library – Jonathan Burch

During our visit to the Wilson Library, we were presented with many different works and adaptations relating to the books and movies we have read and watched in class.  There were posters, comics, children versions, pocket editions, deluxe issues, and magazines that all contributed to our expanding ideas of adaptations.  One thing I noticed was that it seemed as if the medium a story was portrayed through often altered the overall plot and purpose of the original work.  I consider this the most interesting aspect of our trip to the Wilson Library since it changed my view of adaptations.  I know that adaptations do not always imply a different plot, yet I argue that it at least offers a different purpose compared to the original.  Before further explaining, I must first define that “purpose” is simply the reason for a creation.  By this definition, I present two examples from the Wilson Library that support my argument.

Firstly, there was the children’s edition of Robinson Crusoe displayed to us.  At first glance, I noticed how small and old the book was and immediately thought it could have been a pocket edition for travelers or soldiers.  However, upon opening the cover I knew the edition was meant for children by the many drawings and easy reading.  From this form of adaptation, it is rather obvious that the purpose of its creation opposes that of the original work.  This edition was formed to offer kids an easy and fun read, while the original was likely written to provide adults with a story containing political and cultural weight.  Not only the purpose but also the plot of this edition is likely changed to shelter the kids from violence and depict more adventure.  Overall, it is clear the children’s edition of Robinson Crusoe changes the plot and purpose of the original.

As the second example, the deluxe edition of Frankenstein is an interesting adaptation of the original 1818 Frankenstein.  The edition is massive with glitz and glamour all throughout the text.  The materials of the book are of the highest quality from the time it was created.  From these aspects, we can tell that the purpose of its creation is to show off wealth with the eloquent text.  This is different than the original since the story is likely not even the main aspect of the deluxe edition.  In fact, it is likely that the plot of the story is unchanged from the first work.  This implies that the deluxe edition is only considered an adaptation due to its luxurious presentation.  In other words, even though the plot is the same, this edition is an adaptation simply because the purpose is altered.

In conclusion, from the class held at Wilson Library, I have expanded my knowledge of adaptations and now believe that an adaptation can simply be shifting the purpose of a creation.  From the children’s version of Robinson Crusoe, we can tell that changing the medium the story is displayed through can change both the plot and the purpose creating an obvious adaptation.  However, from the deluxe edition, we can argue that a new edition can be considered an adaptation by only a change in the purpose it was created.  Overall, my experience at the Wilson Library shaped me a new understanding of adaptations and furthered encouraged me to continue analyzing adaptations.

The Purpose of Foe – Jonathan Burch

If you have ever read the book, Foe, you likely were left at the end wondering “what the heck did I just read?”.  Many try to comprehend what J. M. Coetzee’s purpose for this story was.  Could it be that he wrote it to demean the work of Daniel Defoe? Or may it be that Coetzee wanted to depict the pain and struggles individuals felt during the apartheid era of South Africa, his home country?  There is evidence for both possibilities.  However, due to the lack of motivation to defame Defoe and the clear importance of the apartheid on J. M. Coetzee’s life, this analysis of Foe will suggest the latter is true.

Throughout the novel, there are many details that can be linked towards the sufferings of apartheid in South Africa.  For instance, one scene from Foe describes Friday as “a slave who is now free” (100).  Although he is “freed,” Friday never is able to return to his home and is constantly living and serving the life of a slave (100).  In relation to the apartheid era, Friday symbolizes the many slaves that were slowly given more rights and so called “freed” in the early 19th century only to continue being oppressed by the unequal and rather terrible treatment from South Africa government officials.

In addition to the details embedded within the book, reasonably the most critical connection of Foe to the apartheid era in South Africa, is the symbolism of the main characters.  Friday, Susan, and Foe are vastly different and likewise can provide a different symbolic meaning.  Friday never being able to speak yet constantly having to serve others and live a lesser life symbolizes the slaves that were oppressed in South Africa.  None of these slaves had a voice.  Contrasting the majority of slaves during the slave trade, the oppressed in South Africa had no voice and even those that spoke for them were not acknowledged by leaders.  They had no say in politics and were never heard by the outside world.  Susan symbolizes the individuals not enslaved or oppressed yet are attempting to show the world the truth and push for a movement against the apartheid.  From the novel, this is seen through Susan continually trying to tell the actual account through her letters to Foe despite his little response.  She expresses her frustration by saying, “my life is drearily suspended till your writing is done” (63).  This is similar to the many individuals that were angered by the lack of acknowledgement from officials.

Consequently, Foe represents the rest of the world.  During the apartheid era, the rest of the world was ignorant of what exactly was going on in South Africa.  In  addition, the people, when finally shown the severity of the oppression, did not accept the truth and denied helping the struggling individuals.  Similarly, the few times Foe listened to Susan he tried to manipulate her story to be more appealing for the rest of the world rather than fact.

To further support this argument, it is essential to note the overall connotation of part IV in Foe.  I suggest, in context of comparing the apartheid era to this novel, that the meaning within part IV is actually irrelevant.  The true purpose of this section is to show the ambiguity of the suffering and struggles individuals faced in South Africa.  When reading this novel part IV changes the entire story and leaves an extreme number of questions unanswered.  Comparably, the majority of the world still question the facts of oppression in South Africa.

Although we can never know J. M. Coetzee’s exact intentions of Foe, from these arguments we can infer that he wanted to depict the challenges of apartheid and the struggles to end oppression.  However, since the novel relates so closely to the apartheid era and considering the significance of apartheid in the author’s life, it is very likely that this was the true purpose of the novel, Foe.