Following the first use of nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War II, atomic science has fueled Americans’ fears, hopes, nightmares, and fantasies. This course will examine various aspects of American nuclear culture in the early-Cold War period. It will consider topics ranging from the Manhattan Project to delivery of the bombs for combat, scientists’ movements to abolish atomic weapons and expand peaceful atomic energy production, and the destructive consequences of the bomb’s initial use and subsequent testing. The class will also investigate the role of the nuclear arms race in the Cold War, the development of civil defense and bomb shelter culture in the United States, and dystopian fiction about the nuclear apocalypse. Employing both historical and sociological perspectives, we will explore the interactions between science, diplomacy, politics, and culture in the nuclear age.
Format: lecture; discussion
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
a midterm, a final exam, and a 10- to 12-page research paper
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada