In this seminar, we will examine the ways in which nuclear materials are imagined in (Anglophone) cultural texts and artefacts.
The nuclear has been evoked recently by some scholars as the marker of the start of the Anthropocene. They argue that the presence of radionuclides in the geological strata of the earth attest to human impacts on a planetary scale. The nuclear figures also in cultural imaginations: as disaster (e.g. Chernobyl, Fukushima), as erasure (e.g. nuclear testing), and as a threat to the future (e.g. storage of spent nuclear fuel).
Our work on this topic in this seminar will draw on frameworks of postcolonial studies, material cultures, science and technology studies, as well as environmental humanities. We will look to develop tools for thinking through the various 'reactions' to the nuclear in (popular) culture, and the ways in which the nuclear is understood and negotiated through such cultural texts and artefacts. This will include discussions of terms such as risk, deep time, material cultures, uneven development, waste, and toxicity.
Our corpus – which will be finalised by the beginning of the semester – will incorporate a broad range of texts, including scholarly treatises, advertisements, videos, life writing, visual art, and narrative forms.
A Reader with a selection of thematically organised texts will be provided at the beginning of the course.