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Rainbow Lifelong Learning Institute, Boston

Re-Visions: Film into Film, Novel into Film

with Linda Dittmar


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This course will take place on Wednesdays at 10:30 AM for ten weeks (9/7/22 - 11/16/22) no class on 10/5/22.  This course will be on Zoom.

Course Description:

This course explores the literary and cinematic rendition of stories about the yearnings and constraints that infused (pre-Stonewall) and continue to affect gay and lesbian lives as they were imagined and re-imagined by their story tellers and by us, their audience, today. Inevitably, such feelings occur within the socially constructed and historically defined contexts of gender, race, and social class norms, at once forbidden, questioned, and resisted. As paired adaptations from one work to the next, our novels and films will invite comparative discussion of ways the norms, expectations, and fluidities of the GLBTQ experience were depicted, including their self-defined “male” and “female” positions.

Works covered are: “A Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (introductory film); “All that Heaven Allows” and "Far From Heaven” (films); “Maurice” (novel and film); “Passing" (novel and film); and “Brokeback Mountain” (novel and film).The novels and films will be read/viewed at home ahead of the discussion. Each novel will be discussed in two sections. Films should be screened (at home, on your own) as close to the discussion as possible, and only AFTER we finish discussing the companion literary work it adapts. (For example: screen “Maurice” only AFTER we finish discussing the book.) This requirement is to keep the film fresh and the two works as distinct in our minds as possible. Since we’ll pay close attention to ways each story is told (cinematically and/or verbally) in-class discussion, it will be helpful to keep viewing/reading notes or journal at home ahead of time. Study questions will also be provided.


E.M.Forster, Maurice (1913)

Nella Larsen, Passing (1921)

Annie Proux’s “Brokeback Mountain” (the New Yorker 1997/8

Close Range: Wyoming Stories 1999)


A Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Celine Schiamma 2019)

All that Heaven Allows (Doublas Sirk 1955)

Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes 2002)

Maurice (Ismail Merchant & James Ivory 1987)

Passing (Rebecca Hall, 2021)

Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)

Course Leader:

Linda Dittmar is Professor Emerita at the University of Massachusetts—Boston, where she taught 20th and 21st century literature and film studies for 40 years, including GLBTQ courses and academic publishing in both media. Winner of the Chancellor’s Teaching Prize and a Stanford Ph.D., she also taught in Paris and Tel Aviv and was two-times winner of a Fulbright grant to India. Several chapters from her memoir, “Tracing Homelands; Israel, Palestine, and the Claims of Belonging,” are in print. Most recently, she won a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


  • Sep 7 - Nov 16th, 2022
    Wed for 11 weeks from 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Online Class

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