Spy vs. Spy

Examine the secret world of spies in fiction and in real life. View and discuss the award-winning BBC dramatizations of two John le Carré novels: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (6 hour-long episodes) and Smiley's People (also 6 hours). These stories pit on-the-shelf British intelligence officer George Smiley (played brilliantly by Alec Guinness) against the Soviet spymaster code-named Karla and his mole within the "Circus" (loosely based on Britain's MI6). To add real-life context, we will also study the inner workings of Britain's Secret Services and their Soviet counterparts in an attempt to understand how and why the British services were so deeply penetrated by Soviet agents. Both the factual material and the fiction may lead us to consider larger issues such as the moral ambiguities inherent to a secret service. Disclaimer: some of the historical "facts" presented in this class may be untrue, since misinformation and disinformation permeate almost all published material in this field.

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