It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged…Transmedia has the Power to Transform Storytelling

A Review of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries by Hank Green and Bernie Su

Description:

cast“Who am I? I’m a 24 year old grad student, with a mountain of student loans, living at home and preparing for a career. But, to my mom, the only thing that matters is that I’m single. My name is Lizzie Bennet, and this is my life.”

From behind the computer screen, we are introduced to a very different Elizabeth Bennet than the beloved heroine Jane Austen gave us two hundred years ago. Though still intelligent, sensible, quick-witted, and sharp-tongued,this modern-day Lizzie Bennet video blogs, tweets, and lets us into her world in ways that Jane Austen never dreamed of.  Hank Green and Bernie Su bring the classic Pride and Prejudice to life.

Lizzie’s diary brings us into the modernized Bennet home, complete with the comically overbearing Mrs. Bennet, the loving Mr. Bennet, Lizzie’s elder sister Jane, and younger sister Lydia. Yes, Lizzie is right in the middle of Jane, the ever-optimistic fashionista, whom Lizzie swears is the “kindest person you will ever meet;” and Lydia, the “slutty,” attention-starved college student who can’t help but get into trouble. While the diary follows the plot of Pride and Prejudice, it is the relationship between the three sisters that keeps viewers coming back for more.

The viewers of Lizzie’s modern-day diary are encouraged to not only share in her experiences, but participate in her world. The story is shaped by viewers’ comments and tweets. The diary is interactive, displaying one aspect of how transmedia can affect the art of storytelling. Hank Green and Bernie Su explore the power of storytelling in multiple forms of media; attracting younger generations to this canonical text. The modern day adaptation is by no means a replacement of Jane Austen’s eloquent words, rather this approach complements the novel through reader engagement and fostering divergent paths of thinking.

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Review:

Title:

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Author:

Hank Green and Benie Su

Links to Author’s Page or other sites of interest:

http://www.lizziebennet.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/LizzieBennet

https://twitter.com/TheLizzieBennet

http://thelydiabennet.tumblr.com/archive

Length:

(# of pages, chapters, and pages in chapters)

100 episodes; 3-5 minutes in length

Ideal Audience & Why:

(cultural relevance, maturity, geographic relevance)

Young women 15 and up; Jane Austen fans

Genre & Medium:

Transmedia, Satire, Fiction,

Story Context:

(setting/time period/biographical information)

Modernized Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice

Main Characters:

Lizzie Bennet

Jane Bennet

Charlotte Lu

Lydia Bennet

Darcy

Bing Lee

Main Elements, Topics and Themes:

Pride & Prejudice, Love, Sisters, Video Blogs, Perspective, Social Media

What drives this book?

(plot, characters, themes etc.)

Plot & Character relationships; Pursuit of finding a husband

Possible Teaching Points:

(about the book or taken from the book)

Perspective, relevance of Austen’s themes to modern day life, possibilties of creations beyond the text.

How would you use it? Why? (Independent, Whole Class, Literature Groups, Read Aloud, Library, Good Books Bin)

Independent, Literature Groups reading Pride & Prejudice

Possible “Permission Slip” Worthy Topics or Topics with Recommend Sensitivity for Particular Students:

Mild Language, “Sex tape” discussions

Significance of the Title:

Modern video diary of Jane Austen’s beloved Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Bennet.

Ratings (5 best)

Rate each statement below. 5 is strongly agree and 1 is strongly disagree. Include explanations for ratings. (What developmental theory are you using? What critical lens is that decision built on? What details from the book contribute to the rating?):

1 -2- 3 4 5

Literary merit (please describe): Portrayal of realistic characters; there is an aesthetic value to the mode

-1- 2 3 4 5

The authors employed literary devices (i.e. well-written).

1 2 3 4 -5-

There was a driving plot. Describe the pace: 100 video blogs, each 3-5 minutes long.

1 2 3 4 -5-

The characters were well-developed.

1 2 -3- 4 5

The theme(s) made the readers think.

-1- 2 3 4 5

The book good for read aloud. Describe the narrative voice: This text is in the form of first person narrated video blogs, and are meant to be listened to.

1 2 3 4 -5-

Manageable plot/setting/characters other elements. Describe items of note: A more modern and relatable Pride & Prejudice.

1 2 3 4 -5-

Young people would be able to make connections.

1 2 3 -4- 5

Anyone with invested interest would enjoy this.

1 2 -3- 4 5

The readers identified with the characters and even discovered themselves (again).

1 2 3 -4- 5

There is both hope and despair. Describe: A wide range of emotion is represented as Lizzie documents her personal and family dramas through quick video confessionals.

1 2 3 -4- 5

The mode of storytelling stimulated imagination.

1 -2- 3 4 5

We will be thinking about this tomorrow.

1 -2- 3 4 5

We learned new knowledge.

1 2 3 -4- 5

Text accurate reflected teenage life.

The following subject areas content could be addressed with this book. Check all that apply and type/write in any specifics:

Social Studies:

Math:

X

Art: Expressing oneself through transmedia

Science:

X

Career and Technology Education: Shows the vast possibilities of creation through multimodal means.

X

Healthy Lifestyles: Development of relationships, characters’ lifestyle choices

X

English Language Arts: Shows what can be created from a canonized text. Demonstrates that Austen’s themes are ever-present.

Contributors: Mackenzie Ring, Andrea Mani, Alicia Duchatelier, Jen Gayda

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