Archive for July 2015

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[ecrea] Spying on Spies: Popular Representations of Spies and Espionage

Wed Jul 22 05:42:08 GMT 2015

Registration now extended until July 31st

*Spying on Spies: Popular Representations of Spies and Espionage*

/3-5 September 2015, Warwick Business School at The Shard, London/

2015 will mark the 100th anniversary of John Buchan’s /The Thirty-Nine
Steps/, one of the spy genre’s most influential novels. With its roots
in the 19th century, the genre evolved and diversified throughout the
20th century, providing, as Michael Denning writes, a ‘cover story’ that
has rendered ‘the political and cultural transformations of the
twentieth century into the intrigues of a shadow world of secret
agents’. Capturing the ever-evolving zeitgeist of cultural and political
anxieties, the genre has encompassed (and exploited) ‘hot’ wars and
‘cold’, and most recently a global War on Terror.

In the same year that Buchan introduced Richard Hannay to the world,
writers from William le Queux to Henry Aumonier were also fine-tuning an
already-established tradition. Over the last hundred years, the heroic
spy has undergone a series of re-inventions as an action-adventure hero
for the modern age across all forms of popular media. While in the 30s
and 40s, Graham Greene and Eric Ambler reintroduced literary realism,
‘Sapper’ maintained the heroic tradition; in radio, /Dick Barton:
Special Agent /thrilled over 20 million daily BBC listeners with stories
of international derring-do. Amid the existential paranoia of the 1960s,
the secret agent became one of the dominant pop culture icons of the
1960s, from books (John le Carré; Len Deighton) to television (/The
Avengers/; /The Man from UNCLE/) and film (/Dr No/; /The Quiller
Memorandum/) combining terror and absurdity. Since 9/11, the ‘War on
Terror’ has introduced a new range of explosive anxieties, from /24/ to
/Bourne/ to /Homeland/. But recently these too have given way to a more
psychological and reflective tone. Moreover, as the strictures of the
Official Secrets Act begin to wane, scholars are increasingly able to
explore the degree to which fact merges with fiction in these texts.

This conference aims to provide a timely forum for a retrospective
discussion of the genre’s development and evolution across multiple
media, exploring neglected and under-discussed areas of its long
history, along with a consideration of where it is today and potential
future developments.

For full details please see the conference

*(SOSConference2015 /at/ <mailto:(SOSConference2015 /at/>*

/Organisers: Toby Manning (Open University), Joseph Oldham (University
of Warwick) and Emma Grundy Haigh (independent)/

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