Narrative Research Group workshop with Emma Grundy-Haigh – ‘She Steeled Herself For Action: Women, Heroism and Espionage in Fiction’

On Wednesday 14 January Emma Grundy Haigh (PhD student at Goldsmiths) presented her paper on ‘Women, Heroism and Espionage’ to BU’s Narrative Research Group.

Emma’s argument proceeded from the premise that that the figure of the spy is often used to make sense of changes within the social order and that the female spy can challenge expectations of women’s roles as well as explore how women can be active in society and still retain their femininity. Looking at key issues such as patriotism and gendered notions of heroism, Emma’s paper highlighted portrayals of women in espionage, with especial focus given to the middlebrow spy story produced during and immediately after the First World War, and the use of the ‘Good British Woman’ stereotype which reflected the legacy of real-life figures such as Edith Cavell. The post-paper discussion raised issues of genre expectations, gendered identity and narrative structure.