Michael T. Williamson (Department of English) presented a paper, "Communism and Irresolvable Mobility in Eric Ambler's Background to Danger and Martha Gelhorn's A Stricken Field," at the 16th annual Modernist Studies Association Conference.
This paper considered the role of the communist spy as a figure for the movement of history in late 1930’s spy fiction. Williamson argues that the association of the communist spy with the acceleration of history creates narratives that cannot be resolved into ethical and political action. By discarding the speech speed and space speed of the community spy in favor of less mediated forms of writing—especially writing documenting Nazi and Soviet atrocities—both Ambler and Gelhorn offer their British, American, and French readers a perspective from which to act against Nazi and Soviet aggression. This action includes advocating for war preparation and mobilization against fascism, not in the name of communism but in the name of anti-romantic knowledge and fact.
Department of English