Adapting “The Clansman” from A History of the Art of Adaptation [Video] (1:05)

You Can Please Some of the People Some of the Time… None of the People All of the Time: A History of the Art of Adaptation in Movies like Dune, The Godfather, Harry Potter and More!

Dr. Rosanne Welch speaks on A History of the Art of Adaptation in Movies like Dune, The Godfather, Harry Potter and More! at the California State University, Fullerton Library

Part of the program series for Dune by Frank Herbert: A 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Watch this entire presentation




I think one of the most interesting adaptations is a book we really don’t teach in film classes anymore and we shouldn’t because the content is awful. We don’t need this story anymore, but it’s an interesting demonstration in the power of adaptation. Of course, I’m talking about “The Clansman” which was written just the Civil War and has to do with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and it makes the Ku Klux Klan the heros, which is frightening. I know eyebrow riffle there. How could that possibly be true. Well, obviously, a former Confederate, the children of Confederates would think of them as heros. So, this was a huge book and sadly one of the early, early directors who we all know, D. W. Griffith, was also in love with the Confederacy in the South. His grandfather has been in the Confederate Army, so he undertook to make the film, which was huge. It starts out being called, “The Clansman”, but we know it now more as “The Birth of a Nation.” Again, we used to teach it in film class because there’s a lot of new camera angeles and things that make it valuable, but we’ve come away from that because the content is just so controversial and so valueless that we don’t teach it in classes anymore. 

About this talk

Dr. Rosanne Welch (RTVF) speaks on the craft of history of film adaptations from the controversy of the silent film Birth of a Nation (protested by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1915) to Breakfast at Tiffany’s (to which author Truman Capote famously said, “The only thing left from the book is the title”) to The Godfather . Naturally, the behemoth in adaptation – Harry Potter (which depended on the relationship created by adapter Steve Kloves and author J.K. Rowling) will be discussed, as will the subject of this month’s celebration: Dune.

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 Time: 1:00pm – 2:00pm

About Dr. Rosanne Welch

Dr. Rosanne Welch is a professor in the Low Residency MFA in Screenwriting Program from Stephens College, California State University, Fullerton, Mount San Antonio Community College and Cal Poly Pomona.  In 2007, she graduated with her Ph.D. in 20th Century U.S./Film History from Claremont Graduate University.  She graduated with her M.A. in 20th Century United States History from California State University, Northridge in 2004.

Welch is also a television writer/producer with credits for Beverly Hills 90210 , CBS’s Emmy winning Picket Fences and Touched By An Angel . She also writes and hosts her own podcasts on, her first one titled “Mindful(I) Media with Dr. Rosanne Welch.”

Her upcoming book, “Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture” will be published in Fall 2016

Three Ring Circus: How Real Couples Balance Marriage, Work and Kids and The Encyclopedia of Women in Aviation and Space are two books she has written. Los Angeles Times and the Journal of Screenwriting hold some of her published articles.

Dr. Rosanne Welch Web Site and Blog

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Dr. Rosanne Welch on YouTube

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