Postgraduate Course: Fiction and Espionage (ENLI11236)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||The course addresses the modern history of contemporary concerns about secrecy and the surveillance state, terrorism and propaganda. Students will follow a broadly chronological survey from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day that explores how espionage fiction reflects the anxieties of modern society and how these anxieties change historically. The course will consider the relationship of fiction to history, and of 'popular' to 'literary' fiction. Specific issues will include gender, imperialism, technology and the role of political secrecy in everyday life. The course follows these concepts through a sequence of espionage novels.
The course will explore espionage fiction both historically and in narrative terms. Questions will include the narrative structure of espionage novels; the role of popular fiction in the construction of ideologies; the relation of political secrecy to empire; gender and the secret world and the role of women in a traditionally male genre; the secret subject defined by ideas about heroism, sexuality, and the body; the relations between literature and literature and surveillance culture; the novel and global communications; the role of technology in espionage.
The course focuses on approximately twelve key novels or stories that demonstrate the progression of the genre of spy fiction from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. Students will be introduced to these texts through short readings giving historical context and political or epistemological theories. They will learn about the development of secret services, the concept of ideology, the ways in which perception of the world can structured through secrecy and surveillance. Each seminar will include an in-depth study of a single text. Students will be encouraged to discuss the relation of these texts to contemporary concerns about the secret world.
Students will follow a broadly chronological survey that considers how espionage fiction reflects the anxieties of modern society and how this changes historically. Each seminar will focus on particular themes, which will be revisited to give an incremental picture. Classes will consist of in-depth discussion of key texts, drawing on background readings into the politics and social history of espionage, the politics and theory of secrecy, the historical forms taken by the spy novel. The seminars will be discussion-based, focusing on sharing argument, testing ideas and engaging in group debates. In order to prepare for these seminars students will meet in advance each week in smaller 'autonomous learning groups'. These groups will be set tasks such as summarizing a key reading of a novel, performing a close reading of a section of a text, recording a review of a novel suitable for public understanding, Active preparation for and participation in class discussion is required and will be assessed as part of the student's overall performance in the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Students will submit a full abstract and bibliography of their proposed essay, Detailed written feedback will provided on each element of assessment. Students will have the opportunity of oral follow-up feed back on formative assessment.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate their understanding of critical issues in relation to political secrecy as a crucial site in the production of modernity
- speak and write fluently about these issues in relation to the primary texts, and the global, socio-historical contexts in which they are embedded
- pply a range of relevant literary theories, such as genre theory, feminist literary criticism, postcolonialism, postmodernism and the theory of secrecy, to the primary texts on the course, and evaluate these theories in relation to each other
- reflect constructively on good learning practice and articulate how their own thinking about the key course issues has developed.
|Primary compulsory reading|
Bowen, Elizabeth The Heat of the Day (London: Vintage, 1998)
Buchan, John, The Three Hostages (Edinburgh: Berlinn, 2010)
Conrad, Joseph, The Secret Agent (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)
Deighton, Len Funeral in Berlin (HarperCollins, 2005)
Doyle, A.C. 'The Naval Treaty' (available free online)
Fleming, Ian, Casino Royale (London: Vintage, 2012)
Greene, Grahame, Our Man in Havana (London, Vintage, 2001)
Kipling, Rudyard, Kim (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987)
Le Carré, John Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (London: Sceptre, 2012)
Robertson, James, The Professor of Truth (London: Penguin, 2013)
Spark, Muriel The Hot House by the East River (Online: Open Road Media, 2012)
Secondary recommended reading
Bok, Sissela, Secrets: on the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation (London: Pantheon Books, 1982)
Boltanski, Luc. Mysteries and Conspiracies: Detective Stories, Spy Novels and the Making of Modern Societies, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge: Polity, 2014).
Cawelti John G. and Bruce Rosenberg. The Spy Story (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987)
Denning, Michael. Cover Stories: Narrative and Ideology in the British Spy Thriller (1987; London: Routledge, 2014)
Glazzard, Andrew. Conrad's Popular Fictions: Secret Histories and Sensational Novels (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
Goodman, Sam. British Spy Fiction and the End of Empire (London: Routledge, 2015)
Hepburn, Allan. Intrigue: Espionage and Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press).
Kermode, Frank. 'Secrets and Narrative Sequence', in Essays in Fiction (London: Routledge, 1982)
Porter, Bernard. Plots and Paranoia: A Political History of Espionage in Britain, 1790-1988 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987).
Houen, Alex. Terrorism and Modern Literature, from Joseph Conrad to Ciaran Carson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).
Horn, Eva. The Secret War: Treason, Espionage, and Modern Fiction, trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (Evanston, Ill: Northwestern University Press, 2013).
Pionke, Albert. Plots of Opportunity: Representing Conspiracy in Victorian England (Columbus Ohio State University Press, 2004).
Porter, Bernard, Plots and Paranoia: A Political History of Espionage in Britain, 1790-1988 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987).
McCracken, Scott. Pulp: Reading Popular Fiction (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998).
Snyder, Robert Lance. The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction (Jefferson N.C.: McFarland, 2011)
Vincent, David. The Culture of Secrecy: Britain 1832-1998 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).
Wisnicki, Adrian S. Conspiracy, Revolution, and Terrorism from Victorian Fiction to the Modern Novel (New York: Routledge, 2008)
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||As an outcome of having studied this course, students will benefit from having developed a range of personal and professional skills commensurate with the range of SCQF Level 11 characteristics:
Knowledge and understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate their critical understanding of a range of the principal theories and concepts of literary analysis in relation to their reading and discussion of the course material;
Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion, presentations and formal assessment tasks, students will have been able to practice the application of these theories and concepts in their construction of arguments about the course material;
Generic Cognitive Skills: in completing assessed essays and class presentations, students will have practiced identifying, defining, conceptualising and analysing complex problems and issues germane to the discipline;
Communication: through participating in these tasks students will also have demonstrated the ability to communicate ideas and information about specialised topics in the discipline to an informed audience of their peers and subject specialists; they will gain experience in communicating their work to a public audience through digital media;
Autonomy and Working with Others: students will also have shown the capacity to work autonomously and in small groups on designated tasks, develop new thinking with their peers, and take responsibility for the reporting, analysis and defence of these ideas to a larger group.
|Course organiser||Dr Simon Cooke
Tel: (0131 6)51 3996
|Course secretary||Miss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030