From the detonation of the first nuclear weapons over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, nuclear weapons, nuclear energy and the culture surrounding them have shaped our lives and the world in which we live. Nuclearism transformed international military, political and economic relationships. It also transformed popular culture and social life: art, literature and film as well as politics and military doctrine have all reflected and embodied the traumas of nuclear culture
This unit aims:
- To provide an introduction to the history and politics of nuclear weapons and to the culture of the nuclear age, starting from the atomic bombing in Japan and ending with the present days concerns about the uses of atomic energy and weaponry.
- To explore the interactions of science, technology, politics, gender and cultural production in the nuclear world.
- To examine and assess the impact of the nuclear age on human affairs.
- To consider the various theories available in explaining nuclear weapons in the context of HSTM studies and the study of international relations and global affairs.
The unit will be taught in six two-hour seminar sessions. Each session will focus on, typically, two required texts (usually articles or article-length book extracts) which address the weekly theme from different perspectives. Most texts will be secondary sources from the scholarly HSTM/STS.IR literature, but coverage will also include primary literature, popular writing, films (e.g. Dr. Strangelove, Threads). All texts will be made available online in advance, and accompanied in the unit handbook by guide questions to focus the students’ investigation and act as prompts for seminar discussion.
Seminar attendance is not assessed, but full participation is required for all students.
The class lecturer will as far as possible take a background moderating role to allow direct discussion between the students, intervening to deal with digressions or misunderstandings or to suggest further ideas. If the discussion is not flowing freely, the lecturer will take a more active role, prompting responses based on the pre-circulated guide questions.
Students will develop several assessments based on seminar discussions and individual study. One-to-one discussion meetings will be available for planning. Lecturers will offer feedback on drafts, at a level consistent with being able to offer an equal degree of support to all students in the group.
In addition to the seminars, which run over six weeks, students are strongly encouraged to attend the lectures delivered for the undergraduate sister unit, which runs over 12 weeks, through the whole semester.
Essays will be submitted, and feedback delivered, electronically, typically via Turnitin GradeMark. Following the return of feedback, assessors will also be available for one-to-one discussion meetings with students.