Adapting Conrad

A multi-disciplinary conference on what happens to books when translated into other media

30 May 2014, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, University of London

“Thereʼs been a lot of talk about the way in which Hollywood directors distort literary masterpieces. Iʼll have no part of that!”
– Alfred Hitchcock to Francois Truffaut, 1968.

Joseph Conradʼs fictions have been adapted for stage, screen, and radio, and have appeared in songs, graphic novels, and art installations. His work has been adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, Bob Dylan, Christopher Hampton, Nicolas Roeg … and Conrad himself, who wrote three stage plays and a film treatment based on his own stories.

What happens to a literary work – masterpiece or otherwise – when it is adapted into another media? Is it always a distortion? What criteria of success can be used to judge an adaptation? What can we learn about narrative, audiences, and genre from the process of adaptation and the relationship between the original and the adaptation? How can different critical approaches help us understand that relationship?

These are some of the questions we will be addressing in ʻAdapting Conradʼ, a one-day conference hosted by the
Institute of English Studies at Senate House, London, on 30 May 2014. The conference is part of a series of events celebrating and criticizing adaptations of Conradʼs works. It follows screenings at Somerset House in 2013 of U-Wei Haji Saariʼs film Hanyut (2012, based on Almayerʼs Folly) and Christopher Hamptonʼs film of The Secret Agent (1996) – both with panel discussions with the directors. An edited volume, potentially to include contributions to ʻAdapting Conferenceʼ, is also under discussion with a publisher.

Confirmed participants/keynote speakers include Dr Katherine Baxter (author of Joseph Conrad and the Swan Song of Romance, 2010) and Professor Robert Hampson (author of Conradʼs Secrets, 2012).


09:30-10:00 Arrival and Registration
10:00-10:05 Introduction and Welcome

Keynote 1

Professor Robert Hampson (Royal Holloway, University of London): The Many Adaptations of Conrad's Narratives


Panel 1: Film

Chair: Katherine Baxter

Dr Motonori Sato (Keio University, Japan): Adapting Conrad and Maugham: Hitchcock and the Melodramatic Imagination in the 1930s.

Dr Andrew Glazzard (Royal Holloway, University of London): On the Great Isabel, as in space, no-one can hear you scream: Nostromo and the Nostromo in Ridley Scott’s Alien.

Dr Mulaika Hijjas (Department of South East Asia, SOAS): Finding Nina: the Tragic Half-Caste in Almayer’s Folly and U-Wei Haji Saari’s Hanyut.


Keynote 2

Dr James Miller (Kingston University): Sunshine State (2010), including a reading from the novel.

13:00 Lunch

Panel 2: Text and Image

Chair: Andrew Purssell

Frank Förster (Kiel/Hanover): Make Love, but War: Mexican Conrad Comic Adaptations

Dr Roger Moss (University of Essex): T. S. Eliot’s ‘Heart of Darkness’: reading ‘The Hollow Men’ as an adaptation.

15:00-15:15 Interlude: a note on John Powell, Rhapsody Nègre, for Piano and Orchestra (Dr Roger Moss)


Panel 3: Context and Influence

Chair: Robert Hampson

Dr Andrew Purssell (Royal Holloway, University of London): Conrad and Greene (title tbc)

Jennifer Hamilton (University College London): Pinker’s Agency and Conrad’s Adaptations


Keynote 3

Dr Katherine Isobel Baxter (University of Northumbria): Self-Adaptation: Conrad and Gaspar the Strongman.

17:35-18:00 Introduction to The Secret Sharer (2014).
18:00-19:45 The Secret Sharer (2014), written and directed by Peter Fudakowski.


£20 Standard

£15 IES Friends/Speakers/Students/Concessions


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