Tallinn University, Estonia

20-21 June 2019

James Bond (007) is a global brand: since his ‘birth’ in 1953 he’s evolved into a popular cultural icon. Irrespective of the occasional reports of his demise since the end of the Cold War the Bond franchise surges on with new films and continuation novels. While Bond appears to be a quintessentially British creation, his Cold War adventures unfolded across a global stage and the associated books, comics, films and subsequent videogames have established a genuinely transnational legacy.

Bond’s influence was not, and is not merely confined to the ‘West’. The rise of ‘Bondmania’ in the 1960s produced a Bondian narrative which exerted an influence across both the Iron and Bamboo Curtains, triggering an explosion of enthusiasm for espionage as a subject in popular culture. The Cold War has increasingly been projected into popular memory through the prism of spy fiction. But since 1989 the Bondian vision of the Cold War has crossed old ideological boundaries, blurring trans-Bloc perspectives and establishing new legacies. 

While spies’ contribution to the course and conclusion of the Cold War remains disputed by historians, and memories of the Cold War may be receding, the cultural memory of fictional Cold War spies remains a hugely dynamic and influential arena. The European Communist narrative has largely been replaced by Western interpretations of history, but the past conflict remains a great reservoir of inspiration for writers, filmmakers and others. Like Bond, other Cold War spies don’t seem to be dying off either, they are being endlessly reimagined and re-booted.

We are especially interested in examining how the Bond’s Cold War legacy continues to shape popular narratives of the conflict after 1989.

The Conference organizers solicit papers focused on James Bond before, during, and after the Cold War, with a view to submitting these for possible publication in an edited volume of the Routledge Studies in Espionage and Culture series.

Suggested topics:

  • Fictional spies on page and screen and popular memory of the Cold War
  • Spies’ fiction vs fact
  • Audience reactions
  • The Bond continuation novels – 1968-2018
  • Bond cartoon strips and computer games
  • Bondian geopolitics, Bond, gender and the Cold War
  • Soviet and Communists spies: Andrei Gulyashki & Yulian Semyonov, Major Zeman, and others
  • Non-European Cold War spies on page and screen
  • Pre-Bond espionage fiction and its impact on later works—Eric Ambler, John Buchan, Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, Sapper (H. C. McNeile) and more
  • Anti-Bonds: Cold War writers such as Lionel Davidson, Len Deighton, Joseph Horn, & Helen MacInnes  
  • Alan Furst, and other contemporary authors who reach back into the pre-Cold War world in search of new topics, but bring their post-Cold War sensibilities into the discussion
  • Further suggestions or objections might be gleaned from a reading of this blog post James Bond’s Cold War: the geopolitics of ambiguity hosted by the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway: https://rhulgeopolitics.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/james-bonds-cold-war-the-geopolitics-of-ambiguity/

The conference is being organised by Dr Muriel Blaive (Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes), Dr Martin D. Brown (Tallinn University), Dr Karsten Brüggemann (Tallinn University) & Dr Ronald Granieri (University of Pennsylvania). The conference has received funding from Tallinn University’s School of Humanities Research Fund. We will cover accommodation and sustenance for all speakers, and aim to make substantive contributions towards travelling expenses. Funding decisions will be made upon acceptance of your paper.

The conference proceedings will be held in English. In each panel, a commentator will point out conceptual implications and connections between the papers.   

Please submit a single English-language document with the title of your proposed paper, an abstract of no more than 300 words and a one-page CV, including your current position or academic affiliation and a list of key publications, by 1 May 2019 to Dr Martin D. Brown at brownmdr@tlu.ee