From Roger Moore Movie Nights to a ‘Gender and James Bond’ University Course

Assistant professor Lisa Funnell is mourning the death of 007

Headshot of Richard Horgan

Among so many notes of fond respect being tweeted today about the passing of Sir Roger Moore at age 89 from cancer, there are several from Lisa Funnell.

As a child growing up in Hamilton, Ontario, Funnell was inspired by Roger Moore’s James Bond movies, watching them regularly on Sunday nights with her family. She went on to write her Master’s Thesis at Brock University about the changing roles of women in 007 films, and in 2012, pitched to the University of Oklahoma an idea for a similar course. From her 2015 interview with The Oklahoman:

”I had been denied the opportunity at my previous appointment,” she explained. “They said it was ‘too pop cultural.’ But I approached my department chair in Women’s and Gender Studies and said, ‘Hey, would you be interested in a James Bond course?’”

OU took a shot and let Funnell develop a course-online at first. Excitement for the class moved faster than an Aston Martin car chase.

After teaching multiple classes online, Funnell said students begged her to teach a classroom course.

Funnell has also written several books related to Ian Fleming’s timeless creation. The latest, Geographies, Genders and Geopolitics of James Bond, co-authored with Klaus Dodds, was released in January.

Funnell also has a number of articles in the works, including one in 2018 for the Journal of Popular Film and Television tentatively titled “Reworking the Bond Girl Concept in the Craig Era Films.” Sounds like a delightful upcoming slice of academic layer cake.

And of course, we can’t end this item without a more specific look at the contents of said course, one of a number currently taught by Funnell. From the syllabus for ‘WGS 3713: Gender and James Bond:’

First, students will consider the representation of heroism and villainy in the series. They will focus specifically on the performance and intersectionality of gender, race, class, nationality and sexual orientation. Second, students will examine gendered codes defining the “Bondian” film formula, including aspects of visual style, music, and the role of technology. They will also consider the gendered marketing of the Bond films through the opening credit sequence, movie posters and secondary market products such as James Bond videogames, comic books, and cartoons.

Third, students will explore the problematic representation of women in the Bond film franchise. They will examine four key character types: the Bad Girl, the Bond Girl, M and Miss Moneypenny. Finally, students will consider how Casino Royale (2006) functions a prequel and effectively reboots the franchise in the new millennium. They will explore how key “Bondian” elements (such as heroic masculinity) have been reframed in the 2000s and consider why producers chose to reframe the film franchise.

For a little bit more info about Funnell’s fascinating track, check out this interview with the website Literary007.he

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.