CALL FOR ARTICLES, REVIEWS, AND INTERVIEWS
TEXT MATTERS: A JOURNAL OF LITERATURE, THEORY AND CULTURE
LITERATURE AND SECURITY
Liam Francis Gearon (University of Oxford)
In order to delineate this innovative field, there is a more detailed Call text than usual – the text here is adapted and drawn from
Liam Francis Gearon (2019)
“A LANDSCAPE OF LIES IN THELAND OF LETTERS:
The Literary Cartography of Security and Intelligence”
from his forthcoming:
Gearon (ed.) (October 2020) Routledge International Handbook of Universities, Security and Intelligence Studies
Literature is a lie which seeks to tell a truth. Espionage is a trade dependent on deceit. Where the two professions meet, the dissembling knows no limit. As David Cornwell, the nom-de-plume of John le Carré has written: “I’m a liar, born to lying, bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practised in it as a novelist” (Kerridge, 2015). The curiously entangled relationship between literature, security and intelligence is, then, not surprisingly replete with twists and turns of plot and an odd array of dual-facing characters.
In the complex interplay of spy fact and spy fiction, many practitioners of the former have engaged in writing the latter. Eric Ambler, John Bingham, John Buchan, Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, John le Carré, Eliza Manningham Buller, Somerset Maugham and Arthur Ransome are well-known to the list (Burton, 2016; Hannabuss, 2016). And for writers of spy fiction who – except perhaps in their authorial dreams – were never spies, the real and imagined adventures and misadventures of actual spooks by necessity provide the storyline.
From whatever perspective we look, the interface between literature, security and intelligence is rarely incidental. In many cases, books, like other forms of media, have been used as a direct part of ideological and intelligence apparatus, particularly in the history of propaganda, and it is the literary collective as much as particular literary and academic authors who are subjects of security interest, whether the protection of states or political doctrine (Chomsky, 2008; Herman and Chomsky, 1995; Johnson and Parta, 2014; Kind-Kovacs, 2014; Nelson, 2003; Parnica, 2016; Wilkinson, 2009). Books and their authors are often therefore an integral part of the targeted action as perceived physical or ideological threat. Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Maoist China are important cases here. Indeed, dictatorial regimes the world over have long targeted authors alongside intellectuals who are the first threats to be eliminated or undermined, either through cultural and social exclusion through censorship and imprisonment or through the expedients of execution (Power, 2010). Read, for instance, the chilling double-entendre of Bytwek’s (2004) Bending Spines for an account of how a synthesis of books and brutality were at the root of Nazi and other forms of totalitarianism.
While propaganda itself can be considered a weapon of war, books and bombshells often share then the same ideological trajectory, one reinforcing or even anticipating the other, most particularly during times of war (Bernays, 2004; Cooke, 2014; Welch, 2015, 2016). It is why Taylor (2003) calls propaganda the “munitions of the mind,” and O’Shaughnessy (2005) defines it as a “weapon of mass seduction.” The cultural always forms a backdrop to conflict (also O’Shaughnessy, 2017, 2018).
We invite articles (between 3000 and 5000 words), as well as reviews and interviews, on the subject.
Please send proposals (with the subject line, PROPOSAL, TEXT MATTERS) of no more than 400 words to:
Deadline for proposals: 31 December 2019
Deadline for final essays: 1 May 2020 Deadline for revisions of essays: 1 November 2020