The Silence of Fallout: Nuclear Criticism in a Post-Cold War World

full name / name of organization: 
Michael Blouin, Morgan Shipley, and Jack Taylor / Michigan State University

The relationship between the humanities and nuclear issues has re-emerged continuously in contemporary thought. The proposed collection seeks essays that interrogate the role of the humanities in addressing the nuclear question in a post-Cold War world. During a 1984 conference at Cornell University, theorists gathered to try and articulate the goals of Nuclear Criticism; famously, Jacques Derrida spoke out on the issue, linking literature to the very principles of atomic energy. Rather than a temporary fad, Nuclear Criticism has re-surfaced at various moments in theoretical circles of the last half-century. Given the recent events at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan, the ripple of anti-nuclear sentiment the event created, as well as the discursive maneuvers that took place in the aftermath, this is a unique moment to reflect on Nuclear Criticism and its place in the contemporary academy (and in society at-large).

Topics of interest may include: critical theory, environmental studies, gender, race, global politics, film studies, New Media, popular culture, and religious studies.

We are specifically interested in close textual readings that may address one or more of the following questions:

- What is the role of the humanities in times of heightened nuclear anxiety as opposed to times of decreased concern? How has this changed over the past fifty years?

- What role, if any, should critical theory in particular play in broader dialogues surrounding the nuclear question?

- How do we remember nuclear catastrophe and forecast its potential devastation? Why has this issue been largely silenced or forgotten in a post-Cold War world? Can it be represented any differently today than in the past?

- What is the relationship between the nuclear threat and the terrorist threat post 9-11?

- How can these issues be handled effectively in contemporary classrooms?

Abstracts or completed manuscripts should be submitted to with the following heading: "Nuclear Criticism" by no later than December 15th, 2011.