The Agency of the Agent in Spectre: The Heroic Spy in the Age of Surveillance
The International Journal of James Bond Studies
Secret agents have a special agency that also makes them a special kind of hero. 1 In common understanding, heroes are defined by their capacity and willingness to perform deeds that exceed the determination, courage, endurance, and capabilities of more ordinary human beings and have more far-reaching effects. This goes hand in hand with other qualities traditionally associated with heroic agency such as autonomy and leadership. In his famous lectures on Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in
... and the Heroic in History (published in 1841), Thomas Carlyle emphasised the "free force" of the ideal great man and the "lightning" with which he is allegedly infused (1966, 13). Carlyle deplored how this heroic force was increasingly restrained by the advance of modern civilisation. Nevertheless, the heroic has survived into the twenty-first century in the productions of popular culture as well as in real life, if not without critique and the observation that Western societies have had a post-heroic bias at least since the end of the Second World 1 This article was written in the context of the collaborative research centre "Heroes, Heroizations and Heroisms" at the University of Freiburg (SFB 948, funded by the German Research Foundation, DFG; see https://www.sfb948.uni-freiburg.de/?page=1. It continues my discussion of the (meta)heroic elements in Skyfall (Korte 2014). I should like to thank Nicole Falkenhayner for helpful comments on an earlier draft. . She has published on travel writing, the literature of World War One, popular history and Black and Asian British culture.