What Bond can teach us about Brexit?
November 26, 2019
As part of the Student Awards Ceremony, Dr. Brian Patton, Associate Professor, Department of English, French, and Writing, presented the Christopher Perrin Beatty Lecture in Recognition of King's Outstanding Teaching Faculty. The lecture took place on Monday, November 25, 2019 in the Andy & Helen Spriet Learning Commons in the Darryl J. King Student Life Centre.
Dr. Patton’s presentation was entitled “Britain, Brexit, and Bond… James Bond.” He discussed the Brexit movement, which culminated in the June 2016 referendum. Over 33 million people voted, with the decision for Britain to leave the European Union winning out by a slim margin. “This began a debate of what it means to be British,” said Dr. Patton.
“I have no idea where Brexit will go. Ultimately, fantasies cannot save us but a look at them can perhaps point the way,” said Dr. Patton.
Dr. Patton turned his attention to how Ian Fleming’s fictional spy character, James Bond, “has embodied notions of Britishness that have proven widely compelling,” since his 1953 debut. The Bond character emerged from a postwar period that witnessed dramatic changes, both in Britain and abroad - including the creation of the welfare state and the decline of the Empire - and has been reimagined to suit an ever-changing Britain.
Bond was the perfect character to reflect what it means to be British. “Most people will know Bond even if they have never read a novel or seen a film. The stories and images have become woven into personal identity and national identity,” said Dr. Patton.
The Bond character in both the novels and films were examined as a reflection of British society, including his “conspicuous consumption,” being a traditional figure with his deference to authority and views on women getting the vote and being in positions of authority, and using gadgets as "a means of asserting British cutting-edge modernity.” Dr. Patton explains Bond “presents a fantasy of Britain that didn’t lose the sway it once had.”
Dr. Patton received the honour of presenting the Christopher Perrin Beatty Lecture after being named the full-time recipient of the 2019 King’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The Christopher Perrin Beatty Lecture in Recognition of King's Outstanding Teaching Faculty was established by family and friends of the late Christopher Beatty (BA Hons '07) and hosted annually by the King's University College Foundation. The lecture is held in conjunction with the Student Awards Ceremony and recognizes excellence in teaching at King's University College.
“Christopher would be honoured that you are all here and he would be thrilled by the subject of this particular lecture,” said Perrin Beatty, Christopher’s father.