Global Atomic Horror: Fears of Nuclear Power in Gothic Literature, Film and Media

deadline for submissions: 
October 21, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Laura Hubner, Abigail Whittall
contact email: 


Global Atomic Horror: Fears of Nuclear Power in Gothic Literature, Film and Media



We invite chapter proposals for an edited volume of critical essays on horrific and Gothic representations of nuclear power. Proposals are welcome from both new and established scholars. Interest in the volume has been expressed by Palgrave Macmillan for their Gothic book series. Edited by Professor Laura Hubner (University of Winchester) and Dr Abigail Whittall (University for the Creative Arts).

This edited collection will consider the myriad representations of the potential dangers of nuclear power within the arts, including literature, film, television and video games. While the fear of nuclear disaster has been addressed in works on the Cold War, apocalyptic and ecocritical fictions, the specific threat of nuclear power within the Gothic and horror deserves further consideration.

As a concept highly concerned with cultural anxieties, the Gothic has proved fertile ground to express fears of nuclear power. This may include both the “terror Gothic” and the “horror Gothic”, as Jerrold E. Hogle (2002:3) describes: ‘The first of these holds characters and readers mostly in anxious suspense about threats to life, safety and sanity kept largely out of sight or in shadows or suggestions from a hidden past, while the latter confronts the principal characters with the gross violence of physical or psychological dissolution’.

Atomic horror texts emerge from a number of historical contexts in which this ever-present anxiety has intensified due to nuclear disaster or warfare, such as during the Cold War or in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Equally, the contemporary context of the war in Ukraine as well as regular reporting on North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction has brought such fears to the fore once again. Indeed, in line with the geopolitical nature of these events we seek contributions considering a range of historical and global contexts.


Potential Topics

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Representations of real nuclear disaster, such as Chernobyl or Fukushima
  • Fictional nuclear disasters
  • Representations of nuclear weaponry, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • Nuclear apocalypses and post-apocalyptic worlds
  • Nuclear radiation resulting in mutations and monsters
  • More implicit representations of nuclear anxiety

Example approaches:

  • National, transnational and historical contexts
  • Ecocriticism and the ecoGothic
  • Psychoanalysis and trauma studies
  • Transmedia and adaptation
  • Hybridity (e.g. Gothic horror, science-fiction, drama, disaster and documentary)


Proposal Submission and Timeline

Those interested should send a ~300 word proposal and a ~100 word bio within one MS word document by 21st October 2022, to and The estimated final publication date is early 2024.


Works Cited

Hogle, J.E. (2002) ‘Introduction: The Gothic in Western Culture’ In: Hogle, J.E. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.1-20.