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3.02.141 S Licence to Thrill: Espionage in British Literature and Film


  • Mittwoch: 08:00 - 10:00, wöchentlich


Licence to Thrill: Espionage in British Literature and Film

"Portraits are supposed to be frightfully self-revealing, aren't they? Show what one's really like – the secret self." In Tim Fywell's ingenious TV series Cambridge Spies, H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother addresses these words to her distant cousin Anthony Blunt. Little does she know, however, that Blunt – along with Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, and Donald Maclean – is part of the most notorious spy ring ever to have infiltrated the United Kingdom. The Cambridge Four, as they have come to be known, have posed a conundrum to the British public, as they had secretly betrayed and subverted precisely those pillars of society that had been built to make them thrive and succeed in life, i.e. their public school, their university, and their class-conscious, heteronormative upbringing more generally. What is it with these English gentlemen – with their conflicting selves, the public and the secret ones, with their political, sexual, and religious identities – that has caused them to become traitors to their own kind? This will be a central question of the seminar whose major aim is to examine the complex identities of secret agents in British literature and film. In so doing, the seminar will take a closer look at spy fictions and films from two very distinct historical moments: the years leading up to the First World War, which are marked by British fears of a looming German invasion, and the time of the Cold War, which is mainly characterized by an ideological and political landscape divided by the Iron Curtain.

Please read:
Banville, John. The Untouchable. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2010. Print
Buchan, John. The Thirty-Nine Steps. Oxford: OUP, 1993. Print.
Le Carré, John. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2009. Print.
Maugham, W. Somerset. Ashenden. London: Vintage, 2000. Print. (Excerpts)

Please watch:
Another Country. Dir. Marek Kanievska. Perf. Colin Firth, Rupert Everett. Concorde, 1984. DVD.
Cambridge Spies. Dir. Tim Fywell. Perf. Tom Hollander, Toby Stephens, and Samuel West. BBC, 2003. DVD.



  • ang614 Genres: Cultural, Historical and Theoretical Perspectives
  • gen230 Geschlecht und kulturelle Repräsentation
  • gen232 Geschlecht und kulturelle Repräsentation


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Diese Veranstaltung wird in englischer Sprache gehalten.


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