14 March 2012

Children of Hitchcock

Debbie Olson at Oklahoma State University has invited scholars and critics to submit proposals for a book of essays on Hitchcock’s Children:
Although children and youth appear in a great number of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, they are rarely the focus of critical attention. This collection seeks to remedy that oversight and aims to add to the rich and varied tradition of Hitchcock scholarship. Many of the children and youth that appear in Hitchcock films are background or minor characters, yet they often hold special importance.

From The Young and Innocent (1931), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Strangers on a Train (1951), The Trouble With Harry (1955), and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) to The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964) children and youth perform both innocence and knowingness (and so much more) within Hitchcock’s complex cinematic texts.

Though the child often plays a small part in Hitchcock’s films, their significance, both symbolically and philosophically, offers a unique opportunity to illuminate and interrogate the child presence.
It is indeed impossible to watch the crucial sequence in Sabotage (1936) when Sylvia Sidney’s little brother carries the bomb on the bus without laughing.

The volume will define children as “birth to age 12” and youth as “age 13 to 17.” Olson invites prospective contributors to send an abstract of 200-500 words, current contact information, and a brief bio or CV by 30 May 2012, to her email. Completed papers are due 31 August.

While I recognize that Hitchcock did his direct work for the cinema, can’t this volume include a ground-breaking study of the depiction of male youth in his commissioned Three Investigators series?


Chaucerian said...

All right, I'll bite: why is it funny to watch the little boy unwittingly in danger?

J. L. Bell said...

I was alluding to Oscar Wilde on Dickens there, but the sequence is ludicrously manipulative. By the time you see the boy playing with a puppy while the bomb ticks on and Hitchcock cuts to another shot of a clock, you can either laugh or weep.