English Professor Publishes Essay on Alfred Hitchcock


HIGH POINT, N.C., May 2, 2014 – Dr. Matthew Carlson, assistant professor of English at High Point University, published an essay, titled “Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Hitchcock’s Sabotage, and the Inspiration of ‘Public Uneasiness,’” in a new book, “Hitchcock and Adaptation: On the Page and Screen.”

The book, edited by Mark Osteen and published by Rowman & Littlefield, includes contributions from established and up-and-coming scholars of Hitchcock and adaptation studies. Essays in the collection explore how Hitchcock and his screenwriters transformed literary and theatrical source material into masterpieces of cinema.

Dr. Carlson’s essay argues that both Hitchcock’s 1936 film Sabotage and the novel on which it is loosely based, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, are preoccupied with tensions between the desire for critical success and the pursuit of popularity. It demonstrates that Sabotage deeply engages with—and explicitly alludes to—Hitchcock’s anxieties about the artist’s relationship to his public and concludes that making the film taught the director a great deal about his relations with his audience, relations dramatized in the film’s own story.

The essay grew out of a presentation Dr. Carlson delivered at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference, and a shorter version of it appeared in a 2013 issue of Clues, a scholarly journal devoted to mystery and detective fiction in print, television, and movies.

Dr. Carlson particularly enjoyed working on this project since its topic intersects with his English 2200 course, “The Art of Detection,” which he will be teaching again this coming fall.

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