This article presents a one-semester project carried out by students enrolled in an elective undergraduate course, Adolescent Literature in Film. The project focused on the perceptions of Taiwanese university students in Taiwan regarding symbols noted in two American films, The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Tin Man (2008) based on the children’s story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum (1900). Working from the theories of communication of Shannon and Jacobson, students analyzed the two films and the written text with regard to symbols relating to values of “home,” “heart’s desire” and “obstacles” to its attainment. An open-ended questionnaire regarding the above values was administered at the start of the semester to help students to define particular values with regard to their Chinese language and culture and in determining the symbols that would best express these values for them. Articles available on the internet giving background information in semiotics (Antohin, 2006, Mattler, 1999) were assigned to assist students in vocalizing and structuring their ideas in English. The religious and political explanations for symbols found in the films that were offered by Rieley (1988) and Earle (1993) offered examples with regard to the three specific areas mentioned above. A comparison of those offered by American authors and the ones developed by the students in this class formed the basis for student reports for a department-sponsored panel discussion in the second quarter of the semester.
Associate Professor, Department of English Language, Literature and Linguistics, Providence University, Shalu, Taiwan
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