The Women Who Knew Too Much : Hitchcock and Feminist Theory book cover
3rd Edition

The Women Who Knew Too Much
Hitchcock and Feminist Theory

ISBN 9781138920330
Published August 18, 2015 by Routledge
220 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Originally published in 1988, The Women Who Knew Too Much remains a classic work in film theory and feminist criticism. The book consists of a theoretical introduction and analyses of seven important films by Alfred Hitchcock, each of which provides a basis for an analysis of the female spectator as well as of the male spectator. Modleski considers the emotional and psychic investments of men and women in female characters whose stories often undermine the mastery of the cinematic "master of suspense." The third edition features an interview with the author by David Greven, in which he and Modleski reflect on how feminist and queer approaches to Hitchcock studies may be brought into dialogue. A teaching guide and discussion questions by Ned Schantz help instructors and students to delve into this seminal work of feminist film theory.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Hitchcock, Feminism, and the Patriarchal Unconscious

1 Rape vs. Mans/laughter: Blackmail
2 Male Hysteria and the "Order of Things": Murder!
3 Woman and the Labyrinth: Rebecca
4 The Woman Who Was Known Too Much: Notorious
5 The Master's Dollhouse: Rear Window
6 Femininity by Design: Vertigo
7 Rituals of Defilement: Frenzy
Afterword: Hitchcock's Daughters (1988)
Afterword: Resurrection of a Hitchcock Daughter (2005)

An Interview with David Greven
A Study Guide by Ned Schantz

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Tania Modleski is Florence R. Scott Professor of English at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Loving with a Vengeance and Feminism Without Women, and of numerous articles on feminism, film, and popular culture.

David Greven is Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of numerous books on both film and literature and has written extensively on Hitchcock.  

Ned Schantz is Associate Professor of English at McGill University and is at work on a study of Hitchcock and hospitality. He is the author of Gossip, Letters, Phones: The Scandal of Female Networks in Film and Literature (Oxford University Press, 2008).  


"The master of suspense meets his match in one of feminist criticism’s most lucid voices. Modleski’s prose shines with wit and sparks with anger as she uncovers surprising textual investments in femininity without ever losing sight of the real costs of male power. A film studies classic as inviting to new generations as are Hitchcock’s films themselves." —Patricia White, author of Women’s Cinema, World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms

"Tania Modleski’s celebrated book on Alfred Hitchcock is a genuine classic of film studies and feminist theory. Now available in an expanded edition, it challenges entrenched paradigms and responds brilliantly to the gender and sexual issues in Hitchcock’s films. As Modleski’s lucid analysis of individual pictures demonstrates, the director’s attitude toward women oscillated between sympathy and misogyny; he was an artist who both understood women and feared them." —James Naremore, author of An Invention without a Future: Essays on Cinema

Praise for the first edition of The Women Who Knew Too Much:

"In considering cases of sexism and Hollywood cinema, Alfred Hitchcock is obviously a prime suspect from a feminist perspective, so one might think it odd that a book centered on Hitchcock films could become a key text and textbook for feminist film theory. Yet Tania Modleski's The Women Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Theory has become one of those touchstone critical projects central to feminism because the book addresses questions of interpretation that affect all of us who are engaged in reading from a woman's point of view." —Linda Mizejewski, Discourse (1991)

"[N]o one writing about Hitchcock will be able to ignore Modleski's challenges." —Paul Thomas, Film Quarterly (1989)

"Tania Modleski's study of Alfred Hitchcock provides new insights into one of cinema's most productive directors; while arguing against auteur theory she presents a superb example of it." —Paula Rabinowitz, Feminist Studies (1990)