John le Carré and the Living of History

This course is shaped by a close reading of the late John le Carré’s greatest novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. In addition to its incredibly clever plot and penetrating account of life in the world of Cold War intelligence, Le Carré’s novel offers an encyclopedic look at England and Europe (with important glimpses of America and the rest of the world) in the long postwar period and remarkable opportunities to discuss the paradoxes of intelligence, security and transatlantic politics; class, imperialism, sexuality, and other aspects of British culture and decline; and ideology, European vs American exceptionalism, and the legacy of the Cold War.

Along the way, we will have many opportunities to refer to connections with Le Carré’s other novels and his biography.

Class participants will also be asked to watch (on their own time) the 2011 movie adaptation of the book (starring Gary Oldman, streamable) and as much as they can of the 1978 BBC television version starring Alec Guinness (currently freely available on YouTube), adaptations that will be up for discussion in the latter part of the course.

Venue: online
Meets on: Fridays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/6/2023
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 20
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 1 - 2 hours
Group Leader Biography:

Ethan MacAdam has taught legal philosophy/history at Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and literature at the University of Miami and Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He has worked for architects, photographers and lawyers, and has taught at all kinds of K-12 schools. He currently works in social services, and does a lot of art, photography and design, as well as writing and voices for animation.