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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Fiction and Espionage (ENLI10388)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course looks at a range of modern and contemporary spy fiction and explores the relationship between literature and espionage. We will read spy narratives in relation to literary modernism as well as popular fiction. The course will encourage a debate about current social and cultural representations of secrecy and surveillance in relation to their history, addressing concerns about secrecy and the surveillance state, terrorism and propaganda. We will follow a broadly chronological survey that considers how espionage fiction reflects the anxieties of modern society and how this changes historically. Specific subjects covered will include the relation of 'popular' to 'literary' fiction; the narrative structure of espionage novels; the relation of political secrecy to empire; gender and the secret world; the role of women in a traditionally male genre; literature and surveillance culture; and the role of technology in espionage.
Course description 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 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 be 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.

The course is assessed by two essays, one to be completed by week 9 of the course and one to be written in the exam period, and an assessment of participation in class and in autonomous learning groups. Detailed written feedback will be proved on each element of assessment.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) OR English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) AND Literary Studies 2A: English Literature in the World, 1380-1788 (ENLI08024) AND Literary Studies 2B: English Literature in the World, post-1789 (ENLI08025) OR Scottish Literature 2A (ENLI08022) AND Scottish Literature 2B (ENLI08023) OR English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements For students who took First Year courses prior to session 2021-22, a pass in English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) or Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) is an acceptable equivalent.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 2000 word coursework essay (30%) submitted mid-semester;
plus 3000 word final essay submitted during exam period (70%)
Feedback 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
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate their understanding of critical issues in relation to political secrecy as a crucial site in the production of modernity
  2. speak and write fluently about these issues in relation to the primary texts, and the global, socio-historical contexts in which they are embedded
  3. apply 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
  4. reflect constructively on good learning practice and articulate how their own thinking about the key course issues has developed.
Reading List
Arthur Conan Doyle, ¿The Naval Treaty¿ (1893)
Rudyard Kipling, Kim (1901) [extracts]
John Buchan, The Three Hostages (1924)
Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day (1948)
Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana (1958)
Ian Fleming, Casino Royale (1953)
Muriel Spark, The Hothouse by the East River (1973)
John Le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974)
James Robertson, The Professor of Truth (2013)
Additional Information
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 10 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 organiserDr Simon Cooke
Tel: (0131 6)51 3996
Course secretaryMrs Lina Gordyshevskaya
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