CFP: Global Bond Girls – The Impact of a Complex Cultural Icon
Edited by: Lisa Funnell and Monica Germanà
As one of the world’s most popular cultural icons, James Bond has captured the imagination of viewers around the world with his licence to kill, death-defying missions, innovative gadgets, tricked out cars, impeccable style, and refined tastes (see Funnell and Dodds 2023). Arguably, the popular appeal of James Bond has been most strongly shaped by his encounters with women – heroic and villainous alike – who have helped to define the heroic identity and libidinal masculinity of the titular figure. Across 60 years, the cinematic “Bond Girl” has become a popular culture icon in her own right and a figure synonymous with femininity in spy culture.
The term “Bond Girl” has been widely used by scholars, critics, and fans in reference to nearly every woman that Bond encounters in the course of his mission, occasionally including Miss Moneypenny and even M. This umbrella term yokes together a range of women who serve a variety of narrative purposes as protagonists and antagonists, primary characters and secondary figures, women with names and those who remain anonymous, women who are fully visualized and those who appear in fragments in the opening credits. While the term would appear to pigeon-hole a varied range of characters, the recent critical success of Michelle Yeoh who starred in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) has, on the other hand, raised questions on the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in leading roles across many films including James Bond. As a result, the term Bond Girl encapsulates a complex series of representational practices, the confluence of which has often resulted in sweeping generalizations about the depiction of women in the franchise and unnuanced readings of gender throughout the film franchise.
Indeed, there is, arguably, no more loaded term in the Bond canon, and its critical reception, than “Bond Girl”. The term has recently been critiqued for infantilizing professional women by juxtaposing their “girlhood” with Bond’s “manhood” and thereby reducing their narrative importance and psychological complexity. Furthermore, the term would appear to essentialize women because of their implied dependence on and belonging to Bond (as his girls) without standalone identities of their own. Recently, some of the actors including Monica Bellucci, who, at 51 was the oldest woman to have played the role of one Bond’s “love” interests in Spectre (2015), have refused to be identified by the term, which was, reportedly banned on the set of No Time To Die (2021).
On the other hand, other actors have ‘capitalised’ on and even promoted the status of “Bond Girls”. Maryam D’Abo, who played the role of Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights (1987), co-wrote with John Cork Bond Girls Are Forever (2003), an illustrated book which followed up a documentary with the same title, (2002 and 2006); interviewed by D’Abo for the documentary, Rosamund Pike, who played Bond Girl-villain Miranda Frost in Die Another Day (2002), claims that “Bond Girl” is “more fun” and preferable, in its playfulness, to “Bond Woman” (D’Abo  2006). Naomie Harris, who has taken the role of Eve Moneypenny since Skyfall (2012), whilst aware of the clichés the “Bond Girl” tag comes with, has shown no critical resistance to the term per se, and but has acknowledged the roles are “not really stereotypes anymore, they can be anything” (qtd. in Rothman 2012). While the “Bond-Girl brand” runs the risk of perpetuating some of the problematic gender issues the Bond narratives bring to the forefront, the emergence of more complex roles in the most recent films, and the critical re-reassessment of the earlier films, has also led some critics to reclaim the term in feminist readings of the Bond canon (Germanà 2019).
In light of these challenges or even in spite of them, the Bond Girl has been highly influential in defining femininity in spy culture and other cultural texts. This influence extends beyond the medium of film to include a range of cultural products as well as regions. Indeed, alongside the heated debates she has engendered, the “Bond Girl” has, arguably, also helped to shape cultural representations, performances, and definitions of femininity around the globe. As the rich diversity of these responses remains largely unexplored, our collection, Global Bond Girls, seeks to investigate the expansive nature and global impact of this complex cultural icon.
In particular, the collection centers on three overarching questions:
1 – Representation – How are women depicted across official texts in the franchise including Ian Fleming’s novels, the James Bond films, and licensed comic books, among others?
2 – Rearticulation – How are facets of the Bond Girl archetype transposed onto other cinematic women through the casting of their actors in subsequent roles?
3 – Reinvention – How has the Bond Girl been (re)imagined and transplanted into different cultural texts worldwide and to what end?
We are currently seeking essays for our multidisciplinary collection Global Bond Girls that expand upon the current body of scholarly and critical works. Additionally, we are interested in including a variety of scholarly and critical voices from around the world to be featured in this multimodal research collection.
We encourage proposals on a range of topics that include but are not limited to:
- intersectional representation of Bond Girls in licensed texts: novels, films, comics
- race politics and Bond Girls
- ‘foreign’ actors and ‘exotic’ femininity
- censorship and Bond Girls
- reception of Bond girls in non-anglophone countries
- other films starring an actor after she played a Bond Girl
- influence on spy culture è films, television, literature, comics
- depiction of “Bond Girl” inspired women in animation, comics, anime, manga
- products aimed at children
- spoofs and parodies
- advertising and the marketing of consumer products
Please submit a 250 word abstract along with a CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 1, 2023. Please direct any questions or inquiries to this email as well.
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