CFP - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Adaptations, Histories, Legacies - proposal deadline 1 Oct. 2018

Randal Rogers's picture
Call for Publications
October 1, 2018
Subject Fields: 
British History / Studies, Film and Film History, Humanities, Literature, Popular Culture Studies


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Adaptations, Histories, Legacies

Call for Book Chapters

Editor: Randal Rogers


What accounts for the ongoing importance of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in popular culture? First published in 1974, John le Carré’s novel has occupied an important place in the espionage imagination ever since, with a BBC television adaptation directed by John Irvin in 1979, BBC radio broadcasts in 1988, 2009 & 2016, and a film directed by Tomas Alfredson in 2011. The first in the Karla Trilogy, followed by The Honourable Schoolboy (1977) and Smiley’s People (1979), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy continues the critique expounded in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) to focus upon, not the sexy, triumphant heroism and techno-fetishism of the Bond franchise, but the everyday paranoid underbelly of the secret service. Many have discussed the links between representation and reality as a structuring feature of both Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and its author, who worked as a spy in his early professional life. Its central character, George Smiley, pushed from the Circus (fictional British intelligence agency) only to return covertly to investigate a mole at the very top of the organization, is a type of anti-heroic Prometheus figure bringing light to humanity through forms of deceit. Surrounding Smiley is the unstable edifice of the espionage trade: changing notions of empires and nations as new transnational forms appear; a spy trade being redefined within the dynamics of historical transformation; individual struggles for characters trying to make sense of their work and lives; nostalgia for times that modernity has subsumed in the name of progress; the increasing incursion of the security state into new areas of public and private life; the uncertain relation between truth and deception; and the search for a truth of which no one can any longer be certain.


From the time of its publication to its latest adaptation Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has raised and negotiated key issues related to both fictional and real contexts of espionage. Its ongoing success and currency reside in this adaptability. What happens as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is translated across platforms and historical contexts? How have its adaptations worked with the novel’s narrative context or updated it for contemporary formations and audiences? In short, why has Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy remained vital for over forty years of production?


This is a proposal for an edited collection based upon Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, its adaptations and subsequent media (books, television, film, fan cultures, etc.) from le Carré’s Karla Trilogy. Contributors will primarily consist of experts in the fields of literature, sound, film, or visual culture studies who have researched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and/or related topics (e.g. John le Carré’s novels, spy media forms, adaptation), but artists, fans, and students are also welcome. Topics may include but are not limited to:


            - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (TTSS) in the espionage thriller genre

            - Adaptations of TTSS for television, radio and/or film

            - Mise en scene in adaptations of TTSS

            - TTSS and popular representations of spies and spying

            - TTSS and the counter-Fleming movement

            - Bureaucracy, procedure, and the State

            - Technologies, techniques, techne

            - Conspiracy narratives in the Karla trilogy

            - Secrets, confessions, paranoia, fidelity, honour

            - TTSS and real spying

            - George Smiley’s career

            - Character studies of TTSS

            - Fan cultures

            - Memory and nostalgia

            - Femininities, masculinities, queer sexualities

            - Race and/or class in TTSS and the Karla Trilogy

            - Early drafts of the novel and/or screenplays

            - Empire, nation, transnationalism and the geopolitics of the Karla Trilogy

            - The Cold War in TTSS

            - Real war, information war, communication

            - Watching, seeing, listening and the surveillance/security state

            - The double, reflection and refraction, mirrors and windows

            - Time and/or space

            - Affective domains of TTSS

            - TTSS as a moral/ethical inquiry


Interested contributors are invited to submit a 500-word proposal and a short biography to the editor by 1 October 2018. Selections will be communicated to contributors by 1 November. Final chapters of approximately 5000-7000 words will be due by 1 June 2019, with publication planned for late 2019 or early 2020. Editors of the ‘Espionage and Culture’ series at Routledge have expressed interest in the volume and a full proposal will be made once contributors have been selected. Please feel free to contact the volume’s editor (Randal Rogers) with any questions or queries. In addition, a quick expression of interest email would be appreciated by 1 September.


This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.



Dr. Randal Rogers

Contact Info: 

Randal Rogers

Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance

University of Regina

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