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20 January 2022 - 20 January 2022

5:00PM - 6:00PM

Online (Zoom)

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Everyone welcome to our C21 research seminar, where Professor Marjorie Perloff decodes the French spy series The Bureau.

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Part of our C20-C21 research seminar series

The French five-season 50 episode spy series Le Bureau has won many international prizes for best TV series of the moment: its story of undercover agents for the DGSE (the French equivalent of M16 and CIA) has incredibly exciting plotting as well as remarkable documentary footage about the working of cyber-spy operations in Syria, Iran, Algeria, Russia, and so on. But it is more than slick TV narrative. Le Bureau is an existential drama about a world where the acquisition of information is all-consuming. Each agent has a legend—that is an invented name and narrative and must be true to that narrative while on a specific mission. The interaction between agents—all of them deceiving one another as a matter of course—and between agents and their office managers back in Paris who control their movements, makes for a fascinating examination of choice in what seems to be a hall of mirrors. At its center is the love story of Paul and Nadia. In this essay I want to show what makes this contemporary version of the Faust legend so compelling and provocative. I also argue that this relatively new genre —at once documentary and poetic—is very much of our time.