The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: classroom applications

ozJpIBL-bdo.showposter_hqPreviously: Adaptation (5/6)

Too often students find the classics unrelatable to their present lives.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries provides a unique opportunity to explore adaption across mediums and time, as well as the opportunity to further understand the richness of effective transmedia storytelling.

Last year it was posited that Jane Austen and the events of Pride and Prejudice depict the author as an unacknowledged founder of game theory so manipulative is she in her characters’ interactions, pairing and development.  This can account for the many ways in which this one book has been successfully adapted in so many forms.

However, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries brings Pride and Prejudice into the here and now in a way where marriage proposals take a back seat to career opportunity, and sisterhood is prioritised over romance.

But how might this be integrated into the classroom?

  • Contrast the depiction of Lydia Bennet in the original text, Lizzie Bennet Diaries and The Lydia Bennet video channel. In the expansion of this character, how has the audience relationship to her altered?
  • Explore the role transmedia has played in the growth of many secondary characters and the world of Pride and Prejudice.
  • The video series depicts Lizzie’s perspective throughout with characters being featured as those aware of the camera, and those that are not. Contrast the ways in which Lizzie’s prejudice and Darcy’s pride are evidenced.
  • Explore the use of costume theatre and how unseen characters are depicted in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. As a meta-activity, have students adapt a scene from the series into a costume theatre interpretation.
  • Both the original text and the video series begin with “It is a truth universally acknowledged…” how does each medium establish tone with this beginning?
  • Students can adapt a classic text into a similar blog structure (or transmedia alternatives), translating other literary figures into contemporary ones.
  • Contrast an important event of Pride and Prejudice across multiple adaptions e.g. Lizzie and Darcy’s introduction, Collins’ proposal, or Darcy’s letter.

An exciting by-product of the video series was the creative exploration enjoyed by its viewers, with an outpouring of user generated content.  The breadth of the audience driven art, discussions and interests that have derived from watching this series could not have been expected from the creators.

Some examples;

  • The actress who plays Jane often styles her hair using ideas from the World War 2 era, which prompted questions of how to replicate this.  Video tutorials were posted from Jane on Pinterest and now many fans are recreating elaborate hair styles like Victory rolls and milk maid braids.
  • Some viewers edited the video series into the Dizzie Diaries, an exploration of the relationship twists and turns between Lizzie and Darcy.
  • Gifs were created depicting story parallels, repetitions and trajectories. For example, Darcy’s use of ‘illuminating’ or Lydia and Lizzie’s discussion of worth.

Fan responses such as these create the perfect opportunity for students to imagine their own creative response to the series.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has enabled many individuals to experience the Bennet family through new, or fresh eyes – use this opportunity to generate discussion, prompt predictions and draw upon the reimaged aspects.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a standout addition to the long list of adaptions of Jane Austen’s work. While it started out small, the creators use of their existing audiences, strong vision, crafty use of multi-platforms, a tried and tested story structure and a talented cast to engage and inspire a brand new audience.

The best news?  They’ve done it all over again.  Emma Approved, an adaptation of Austen’s Emma ran from October 2013 to August 2014 and can be found in full on YouTube.
Thank you for reading our The Lizzie Bennet Diaries series – you can find the previous posts here:

TAGS: , ,

Leave a comment

Comments may be reviewed before being published.

Please read our blog guidelines before you reply.

Will not be published