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Nuclear Fictions

ENGL 2082.401
also offered as: COML 2082
TR 12:00-1:29pm


Since the Bomb became fact 78 years ago, works of fiction have born witness to its potential impact upon every life on earth—and to its actual impact upon billions of human and nonhuman lives. By way of these works, our course will trace the spreading shadows cast by nuclear weapons on the lives and places they threaten not only through their detonation but also through their production, testing, and use as tokens of national and imperial power. We’ll learn about the nuclear sublime and the nuclear uncanny, encounter narrative accounts and critiques of nuclear colonialism, and consider how the very shape of the novel has altered to accommodate the Bomb. And we’ll think about how, as Aotearoa New Zealand Māori novelist James George puts it, nuclear weapons have made “a hole in the future” for Indigenous people in the Pacific and elsewhere. Primary texts by James George, Russell Hoban, Masuji Ibuse, Walter Miller, Jr., Ruth Ozeki, Thomas Pynchon (whose Gravity’s Rainbow turns 50 this year), Leslie Marmon Silko, and others.

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • Poetry & Poetics Concentration (AEPP)
College Attributes