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Pat Swenson, CSUN - Brokeback Mountain Major Paper Assignment
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Prof Pat Swenson

Campus Email: pat.swenson@csun.edu

Elements of Fiction

Literary Theory

Myth & Archetype: The Hero's Quest

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Department of English

708 Sierra Tower
Phone: 818.677.3431

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Liberal Studies Program

EA 100
Phone: 818.677.3300

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Brokeback Mountain Major Paper Assignment


When stories become screenplays, information (characters, scenes, setting, etc.) is added and deleted. For your major paper assignment, please read Brokeback Mountain; Story to Screenplay and view Ang Lee’s 2005 film Brokeback Mountain.

NOTE: Purchase the edition that contains the short story, the screenplay, and the three author essays! You will need to read the entire book AND view the film!

While reading and viewing, please take note of the differences in the literary mediums (changes and transformations from story to screenplay to film). Please point to specific passages and scenes, specific dialogue and relationships, and specific visual landscapes and scenery.

In your 1200 word response, you are required to analyze the following:

     1. What elements do the screenwriters add to the story to give it the additional emotional dimensions required for the transition from story to screenplay?

     2. How does director Ang Lee augment Proulx’s view on geographic determinism – the belief that regional landscapes, climate and topography dictate local cultural traditions and kinds of work?

     3. How does the cinematography of Brokeback Mountain and Wyoming (aka Alberta, Canada) add what Larry McMurtry calls lyrical pastoralism? In other words, how do the visual images of the landscape help shape the story and poeticize Ennis’ and Jack’s relationship and reunion?

Your papers needs to be posted via our Turnitin link on our Moodle page by midnight on the week it is due!!!

Remember that the Brokeback Mountain assignment constitutes 25% of your final grade! Good luck and enjoy the story to film experience!

Helpful Hints for Writing the BBM Paper:

In your 1200 word response, make sure you equally cover the following aspects of BBM:

1. Aspects of turning a story into a screenplay.

2. Geographic Determinism

3. Lyrical Pastoralism

Please mention these literary terms by name and describe them thoroughly! Oftentimes, students leave one out and/or do not mention them by name. They are explained and defined in more detail in the essays at the back of the BBM required book. Please write a balanced essay -- one that covers all three requirements equally -- and write in your own words, unless quoting from the book.  Please put quotation marks around all quotes and page numbers at the end of each quote. 

You may wish to divide your essay into three parts -- with headings "Story to Screenplay," "Geographic Determinism," and "Lyrical Pastoralism."  Each part needs to be at least 400 words in length -- with specific examples from the book and/or film. 

Please be thorough and specific! Remember to read the story first, then the screenplay, then the essays. Then watch the film! You will need to refer to all of the above in order to earn an A.

If you are missing one aspect, you will not earn higher than a C.  If you are missing two aspects, you will not pass the assignment.  If you fail to mention the aspects by name, you will not be able to earn an A.