Presentation Title

Espionage in Popular Culture

Document Type

Panel Presentation

Keywords

espionage, popular culture, international relations

Biography

My name is Moriah Harman and I am a senior Political Science major at Marshall University. I enjoy researching and am extremely interested in espionage, popular culture, and international relations, which has led to quite a fascination with political thrillers/dramas such as The Americans, Homeland, and House of Cards. My interests and areas of study inspired this paper.

Major

Political Science

Advisor for this project

Dr. Jamie Warner

Start Date

20-4-2017 1:30 PM

End Date

20-4-2017 2:45 PM

Abstract

Espionage is at the core of various works of popular culture, especially political thrillers/dramas. As one of the world’s oldest professions, spying has piqued the interests of many and makes for captivating storylines and characters. There is a fine line that exists between the real world and fantasy world of espionage and it is often difficult to distinguish between the two. For this reason, it is also difficult at times to distinguish between ally and enemy, good and bad, in the world of espionage. In this paper, I will examine the popular television show The Americans, based on a true story, which features two Soviet spies undercover in America during the Cold War. I will argue that realist thought can be used to explain the portrayals and storylines of certain characters (as well as the depictions of the USSR and the United States) in The Americans by analyzing the first two seasons of the show. More specifically, I will argue that key realist concepts, such as power (as it is explained by Elizabeth G. Matthews and Rhonda L. Callaway), security (as it is explained by John J. Mearsheimer), and interest (as it is explained by Hans J. Morgenthau) are manifested in the show’s portrayal of spies and the featured countries.

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Apr 20th, 1:30 PM Apr 20th, 2:45 PM

Espionage in Popular Culture

Espionage is at the core of various works of popular culture, especially political thrillers/dramas. As one of the world’s oldest professions, spying has piqued the interests of many and makes for captivating storylines and characters. There is a fine line that exists between the real world and fantasy world of espionage and it is often difficult to distinguish between the two. For this reason, it is also difficult at times to distinguish between ally and enemy, good and bad, in the world of espionage. In this paper, I will examine the popular television show The Americans, based on a true story, which features two Soviet spies undercover in America during the Cold War. I will argue that realist thought can be used to explain the portrayals and storylines of certain characters (as well as the depictions of the USSR and the United States) in The Americans by analyzing the first two seasons of the show. More specifically, I will argue that key realist concepts, such as power (as it is explained by Elizabeth G. Matthews and Rhonda L. Callaway), security (as it is explained by John J. Mearsheimer), and interest (as it is explained by Hans J. Morgenthau) are manifested in the show’s portrayal of spies and the featured countries.