Friday, January 25, 2008

Jane Austen's Ghost World

Yesterday I did an exercise with my students in which we rewrote a scene from Ghost World (graphic novel or movie) in the style of Jane Austen. The "write in the style of Austen" exercise is not a new one, neither to me nor to teachers around the world, but I think the Ghost World component is unique. It's the second time I've done this and it was, again, a blast. It reminded me once again that constraints make for great art. Of course you immediately realize you have to break down the dialog of Enid Coleslaw and her snide pal into polite or seemingly polite ripostes, adding adjectives and adverbs. What you then see is that the irony in Austen's characters' speech, while equally edgy, is sort of an outside-in version of Ghost World's. (I haven't quite figured out how they mirror each other.) Also Ghost World is, in fact, a social "novel" that explores the niceties (or lack thereof) of relationships.

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