CAPS406.01 "Hiroshima: Eros of Thanatos?"

Autumn 1999 James Orr, 12 A Marts Hall ext 3388
Wednesday 7 - 9:52 Homepage
Biology Bldg. 222 Office hours: By appointment

Students will be evaluated on class participation, essays on the readings, group presentations, and a term essay.

The journal, class preparation, and participation. For the first two thirds of the course, the evening sessions usually begin with exchange of journal entries on that week's readings, or with videos and recordings of contemporary films, plays, cartoons, documentaries, and radio drama. These will serve to launch our discussions on the readings for that week's seminar. Once during the term you will be required to read an extra assignment and be able to summarize for the class its relevance to that week's topic. I will give you an indication of how you are doing at midterm. (25%)

Three essays (three to five pages, typed, one and one half spaced) on a topic of interest dealt with in that week's readings. One of these essays should be done the week you have the extra assignment (and is graded on a scale of 15). Essays are due in the East Asian Studies Department office (or sent to me cybernetically) by Friday of the week of the reading assignments. You may re-submit essays which you choose to redraft substantially (for a maximum grade of "9," or "13.5" for the extra-reading week's essay) after I return comments on them to you. With your resubmission, due one week after I return your essay, you should include the original paper and a short paragraph detailing exactly what substantive changes/additions you have made. (35%) [Barring prior permission under exceptional circumstances, late essays will not be accepted.]

Presentation of project of special interest. There are four (4) class periods reserved for presentations in late October and November. You will split up into four groups of four to five students, and conduct that week's class. You must decide among yourselves what background readings to assign the rest of the class. You will be evaluated as a group, and must submit a group written report on the topic (due the Friday after). (20%)

Reflective essay on Hiroshima or a theme related to the course (five to ten pages, typed, double spaced). You may find it helpful to peruse the websites and the numerous thought provoking items reprinted in Hiroshima's Shadow. Due December 3. (20%)


Hersey, John. Hiroshima (1946)
Ibuse, Masuji. Black Rain (1965-6)
Bird, Kai., and Lawrence Lifschultz. eds. Hiroshima's Shadow (1998)
Lifton, Robert J. and Greg Mitchell. Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial (1995)
Sugested: Goodman, David B. After Apocalypse: Four Japanese Plays of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1994). Suggested: Lifton, Death in Life.
Supplementary readings on reserve. Substitutions and additions possible. Refer also to list of www links at:
Week #1 (8/25)
The Smithsonian's Enola Gay controversy--opinion pieces and discussion; ABC television special of August 6, 1995 "Hiroshima: Why the Bomb was Dropped."

Week #2 (9/1)
What is it that should be commemorated: A lesson in history and historiography; radio (Norman Corwin's "August 14"); video ("Cap'n Cub" 1944; Frank Capra's "Why We Fight: The Battle of China" 1944)

Segment 1:
Hogan, Michael J. "The Enola Gay Controversy: History, Memory, and the Politics of Presentation." In Hogan, ed., Hiroshima in History and Memory, 200-232. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Of interest: NHK Enola Gay Website(
Extra reading--also requires leading discussion of Sigal.
Curators of the National Air and Space Museum. "The Crossroads: The End of World War II, The Atomic Bomb, and the Origins of the Cold War." In Nobile, Philip, ed. Judgment at the Smithsonian (1995), 1-126.
Segment 2:
Sigal, Leon V. "The Politics of Military Force," in Fighting to a Finish (1988): 158-223.
Of interest: Gene Dannen's list of relevant documents regarding the decision to use the bomb (, including a very thoughtful 1960 interview with Leo Szilard, and an audio clip of Pres. Truman's announcement following Hiroshima.

Week #3 (9/8)
Early American construction of Hiroshima; an early documentary: "The Atom Strikes" (1945)
Hersey, John. Hiroshima (1946).
Stimson, Henry L. "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb." Harper's Magazine 194.1161 (February 1947): 97-107. Reprinted in Hiroshima's Shadows, 197-210.
Compton, Karl T. "If the Atomic Bomb had not been Used." Atlantic Monthly 178 (December 1946): 54-56.
McCarthy, Mary. "The 'Hiroshima' New Yorker." In Hiroshima's Shadows, edited by Kai Bird, 303-304.
Extra reading:
Bernstein, Barton. "Seizing the Contested Terrain of Early Nuclear History." Diplomatic History 17.1 (Winter 1993): 35-72. Reprinted in Hiroshima's Shadows, 163-96.

Week #4 (9/15)
Cold War in earnest and in desperation; documentaries: "You Can Beat the A-Bomb" et al (1950-1956)
Cumings, Bruce. "Kennan, Containment, Conciliation: The End of Cold War History." Current History (November 1995): 359-63.
Porro, et al. The Nuclear Age Reader, 109-114; 185-194. Selections on Eisenhower and Kennedy administration strategic policies.
Watson, Bruce. "We Couldn't Run, So We Hoped We Could Hide." Smithsonian (April 1994): 47-57.
Film: "The War Game" (1966) [U313 .W37x 1991 -- VIDEOTAPE]
Extra reading:
Rowen, Henry S. "Evolution of Strategic Nuclear Doctrine." In Amirsadeghi, Strategic Thought in the Nuclear Age (1979): 131-56.
Week #5 (9/22)
History and Memory in Japan
Dower, John. "The Bombed: Hiroshimas and Nagasakis in Japanese Memory." Diplomatic History 19.2 (Spring 1995): 275-95; revised and reprinted in Hiroshima in History and Memory, 116-142.
Yoneyama, Lisa. "Memory Matters: Hiroshima's Korean Atom Bomb Memorial and the Politics of Ethnicity." In Living with the Bomb, 202-231.
Extra reading:
Website: A-Bomb WWW Museum (

Week #6 (9/29)
What about the original victims? Selections from "Rhapsody in August" 1991) or "Godzilla" (1954;1956)

Lifton, Robert J. Preface, Introduction and chapters 1-3 from Death in Life (1968): 1-102.
Braw, Monica. "Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Voluntary Silence." In Living with the Bomb, 155-172.
Extra reading:
Pomper, Philip. "Lifton." In his The Structure of Mind in History: Five Major Figures in Psychohistory (1985): 143-65.
Hirsch, Herbert. "Robert Jay Lifton: Memory and Mass Death." In his Genocide and the Politics of Memory: Studying Death to Preserve Life (1996): 83-93.
Week #7 (10/6)
Attempts at representation; "Dance of Darkness" or "Musume Dojoji Butoh"
Ibuse, Masuji. Black Rain (1965-6).
Lifton, Death in Life, Chapters 10, 11.
Goodman, David B. After Apocalypse: Four Japanese Plays of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (1994). "The Elephant" and "Nezumi Kozô: The Rat."
Extra reading:
Treat, John. ""Genre and Post-Hiroshima Representation." In Writing Ground Zero: Japanese Literature and the Atomic Bomb (1995): 45-81; or ""Ibuse Masuji: Nature, Nostalgia, Memory" in same, 261-99.
Week #8 (10/13)
M.A.D. Satire: "Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."
Kahn, Herman. "Will the Survivors Envy the Dead?" In Kahn, On Thermonuclear War (1961): skim 40-85, read 85-95.
Linden, George W. "Dr. Stangelove Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." In Nuclear War Films, edited by Jack G. Shaheen, 58 67. Southern Illinois University Press, 1978.
Hoberman, J. "When Dr. No met Dr. Strangelove." (movies influenced by John F. Kennedy's politics). In Sight and Sound Dec. 1993, v.3, n. 12, p. 16(6). For general background on the film in the context of early 1960s Cold War politics.
Of interest:
Southern, Terry. "Strangelove outtake: notes from the war room." In Grand Street Summer 1994, v. 13, n1, p. 64(17). For general background on production.
Extra reading:
Napier, Susan J. "Panic sites: the Japanese Imagination of Disaster from 'Godzilla' to 'Akira.'" Journal of Japanese Studies 19.2 (Summer 1993): 327-51.
Film: Fail Safe (1964) [CALL NUMBER: PN1997 FAIL -- VIDEOTAPE]
Wollscheidt, Michael B. "Fail Safe." In Nuclear War Films, 68-75.
Week #9 (10/20)
Whose Holocaust?
Goodman, David G., and Masanori Miyazawa. Chapter VI, "Identification and Denial: The Uses of the Jews in the Postwar Period," in Jews in the Japanese Mind: The History and Uses of a Cultural Stereotype, 135-82. New York: Free Press, 1995
Boyer, Paul. "Exotic Resonances: Hiroshima in American Memory." Diplomatic History 19.2 (Spring 1995): 297-319; also in Hiroshima in History and Memory, 143-167.
Minear, Richard H. "Atomic Holocaust, Nazi Holocaust: Some Reflections." Diplomatic History 19.2 (Spring 1995): 347-365.
Extra reading:
Ben Dasan, Isaiah. Skim his book The Japanese and the Jews (1972).

Week #10 (10/27) Group projects
Week #11 (11/3) Group projects
Week #12 (11/10) Group projects
Week #13 (11/17) Group projects

Week #14 (11/24) Thanksgiving Recess, No Class

Week #15 (12/1) Last Class. Contemporary video.

Selections from Lifton, Robert J. and Greg Mitchell. Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial (1995).
Dower, John. “Three Narratives of Our Humanity.” In History Wars: The Enola Gay and other Battles for the American Past, ed. by Edward T. Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt, 63-96.
Extra reading:
Film: "Desert Bloom" (1986), other film to be determined, or extra readings for week # 7.

Friday, December 3: Reflective essay due.