CAPS498 Sec. 05 "Hiroshima: Eros of Thanatos?"

Autumn 2007                                                             James Orr, 12 A Marts Hall ext 3388

Thursday 7 - 9:52                                         

Vaughan Lit  104                                       

W2 course  (applied)                                                                  Office hrs: MW 10-11 AM; by appointment



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


           Hersey, John.  Hiroshima (1946)

           Ibuse, Masuji.  Black Rain (1965-6)

           Bird, Kai., and Lawrence Lifschultz. eds.  Hiroshima's Shadow (1998)

                       Lifton, Robert Jay Death in Life

                       Suggested: Goodman, David B.  After Apocalypse: Four Japanese Plays of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1994).


                       Supplementary readings on reserve.  Many will be on electronic reserve and/or Blackboard.   Substitutions and additions possible.  Refer also to list of www links on the course homepage.

Week #1 (8/23)

           The Smithsonian's Enola Gay controversy--opinion pieces and discussion; Enola Gay exhibit tape; ABC television special of August 6, 1995 "Hiroshima: Why the Bomb was Dropped."

Week #2 (8/30)

           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:      Gen. Tibbet's Enola Gay site:

                                   Air Force Association site:

Prof. Gallagher's page of links:, including an archive of editorial cartoons.

                      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,

Week #3 (9/6)

           Early American construction of Hiroshima; an early documentary: "The Atom Strikes" (1945) [Included on "Diary of a Sergeant" videotape]


                       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 ÔHiroshima' 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 (9/13)

           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, "Eisenhower develops"109-114; "Fallout Shelters"185-194. On Eisenhower and Kennedy 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.

           Of interest: National Security Council resolution 68:


Week #5 (9/20)
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 40-84, read 84-95.

                                   Linden, George W.  "Dr. Stangelove Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."  InNuclear 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.

                         "You Will Survive Doomsday" website from the 1980s.

                         Nuclear War Survival Skills, electronic reprint of 1979 Oak Ridge National Laboratory report.
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.

           OR      Film: Fail Safe (1964) [CALL NUMBER: PN1997 FAIL -- VIDEOTAPE]

                                               Wollscheidt, Michael B.  "Fail Safe." In Nuclear War Films, 68-75.

Week #6 (9/27)

           History and Memory in Japan.  "After the Cloud Lifted"


                                   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:

A-Bomb WWW Museum (
                                Hiroshima Peace Museum website (
                                Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (

Week #7 (10/4)

           What about the original victims? Selections from "Hiroshima-Nagasaki, August 1945", "Godzilla" (1954;1956), or "Hellfire" ND 1059 M3 H45 1986.


                                   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 #8 (10/11)

           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 Koz™: 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.

See Maruki Museum murals.

Fall Recess (no missed class)

Week #9 (10/18)

           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 (Yamamoto Shichihei).  Skim his book The Japanese and the Jews (1972).

Week #10 (10/25)
      Group projects

Week #11 (11/1)        Group projects

Week #12 (11/8)      Group projects

Week #13 (11/15)    Group projects
Week #14 (11/22)    Thanksgiving Recess, No Class

Week #15 (11/29)
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 or xtra readings for week # 6.

Of interest: Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI: Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar initiative); Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists "Doomsday clock"

Reflective essay due 11/30.