Fall 2018

Atomic Bomb Literature

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-120


Timothy J. Van Compernolle (Section 01)


[J] On August 6, 1945, in the waning days of World War II, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, laying waste to the city and killing perhaps 100,000 people. A second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki a few days later, on August 9, with similarly destructive effects. This course will investigate the literary responses to these calamities. Such works are referred to collectively as genbaku bungaku, or Atomic Bomb Literature. As the only country in history to have been attacked with nuclear weapons, this is a genre of literature unique to Japan. In order to illuminate this body of writing, we will draw on linguistic and communicative models, trauma theory, and nuclear criticism. We will also examine the larger historical context of the Second World War. The course is structured around three generations of writers, from the immediate aftermath of the bombings to the height of the Cold War. The course assumes no prior knowledge of Japan, and all texts are taught in English translation.

Fall semester. Professor Van Compernolle.


Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2020