Fall 2020

Atomic Bomb Literature

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

Moodle site: Course


Timothy J. Van Compernolle (Section 01)


On August 6, 1945, in the waning days of WWII, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Hiroshima, laying waste to the city and killing some 80,000 people, a death toll that would reach, by some estimates 140,000 from subsequent injuries and radiation poisoning. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki a few days later, on August 9, killing between 45 and 75 thousand people from the blast and subsequent injuries and radiation poisoning. 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. The course is structured around three units that move from the writings of actual survivors to those who engage with the existential implications of living in a nuclear age inaugurated by the bombs.  In order to help illuminate this body of writing, we will draw on linguistic models, trauma theory, and ideas of public memory.

On the assumption that the college will be partially or fully open in fall 2020, the course will operate on a hyflex model, which allows any student, including Five College interchange students, to participate in the course remotely and which also allows the class to quickly shift to remote learning if it becomes necessary for any reason.

Fall semester. Professor Van Compernolle.

Cost: 100 ?


Attention to Issues of Social Justice, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


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