Sourcepack for a course on the atomic bomb

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The Cultural Fallout from the Atomic Bomb



Heather Keith

Laura Head

Keming Liu

Sunita Peacock

David Pellegrini

This sourcepack consists of a course rationale and units covering historical background, memoirs, fiction, poetry, drama, film, and propaganda related to the dropping of the atomic bomb. It also includes philosophical and critical approaches to this material. The units are designed so that they may be expanded, contracted, or eliminated to meet the needs of a particular course. Each unit contains a rationale, suggested reading and/or viewing materials.
The units are designed to be self-interrogating; they contain the tools of their own deconstruction. The goal of the course, then, is to teach critical thinking skills, not just content. It is assumed that each student will engage in a research project related to this material and appropriate for the discipline in which, and the academic level at which, it is taught.

Rationale for the Course
Imagine you’re a goldfish swimming in a bowl. Can you see the water? Of course not. It’s invisible to you because it’s always been there; you can’t imagine a place where it doesn’t exist. The only way to get you to see the water is to take you out of the bowl.
Ideology often defined as a culture’s belief systems, the way it views and makes sense of the world--is like the water. As Althusser stated, you are born into ideology and you are never outside it. If it is doing its job properly, ideology becomes naturalized, meaning that it seems to be inherently true. You can only see it when you are confronted by an alternative, usually arising from another culture or subculture. Only then do parts of the ideology come into the realm of discourse where they can be discussed and evaluated. This is the method by which cultures change, adapting to the changing demands of their environment and their population.
While you can never be completely outside all ideologies and able to evaluate them objectively any more than the fish can survive completely outside the bowl, this course will attempt to give you some of that fish-out-of-water experience by presenting you with multiple responses to, and interpretations of, what some consider the most important event of the twentieth century: the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at the end of World War II.
The bombing of Japan had enormous ramifications for science, ecology, medicine, philosophy, literature, art, economics, history, political science, astronomy--just about any field you can name. It formally signaled a shift in the balance of power in the world and gave a name to our own era: the Nuclear Age. It affects our everyday lives in countless ways and embodies many of our most deeply held beliefs about ourselves and our world. Welcome to the study of The Day of a Hundred Thousand Suns (Le Jour des Cent Mille Soleils), the French name for the day the bomb fell.

Course Objectives:
At the end of this course, students will:

  1. Be knowledgeable about versions of major historical developments leading to America's use of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki;

  2. Recognize similarities and differences in propaganda regarding the construction of the enemy during the war era, as well as historical and contemporary discursive strategies in the postwar era regarding the justification of the bomb;

  3. Have engaged in the discourses surrounding atomic and nuclear weaponry, its historical consequences, and its ethical ramifications;

  4. Have developed better critical thinking and introductory logic skills so they can analyze data and deconstruct readings about the bomb, whether first-person narrative or government documents;

  5. Understand the interaction between memory and the creation and interpretation of art.

  6. Be knowledgeable about cultural formations in the aftermath of World War II, specifically as they relate to literature, theatre, film, and the performing arts in the United States and Japan;

  7. Be conversant with the range of memorial and commemorative events, policies, and monuments, as well as such broad issues as the politics of memory and collective memory related to the bomb;

  8. Be able to critically examine aspects of their cultural ideology related to war and to the bomb, to the ethical use of science, and to the role of the U.S. in world affairs.

References (Atomic War Pedagogy)
Juhnke, William E. “TEACHING THE ATOMIC BOMB: THE GREATEST THING IN HISTORY.” Mennonite Life 1992 47(3): 4-11.

History teachers can use the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to illuminate issues about peace and conflict resolution. Some possible approaches include imagining alternative American actions, such as modifying the terms of surrender or demonstrating the bomb to Japanese officials first, the criteria and mechanisms of wartime decisionmaking, and various pacifist and nonpacifist moral perspectives.

Nicholson, Jack Bertrand. "The Atomic Bomb and Hiroshima: Historical Impact and Teaching Unit." DAI 1980,41(5): 2248-A. 8024314 Publication: Illinois State U. 1980.
Course Introduction: Interdisciplinary and Comparative Methodologies
UNIT I: Historical Overview

(Methodology: Readings from American and Japanese Historians regarding the events leading up to the Pacific War, the U.S-Japan Conflict, and the Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb; Discussion of Texts)

  • Japan and the Pacific War 1935-1945

Ienaga Ch. 5 - The War in China: A Clash of Political Values 75-96

Ienaga Ch. 7 - Japan Extends the War to the Pacific 129-152

Ienaga Ch. 8 - The Horrors of War 181-202

  • Pearl Harbor

View Tora! Tora! Tora!, a joint project of Japanese and U.S. filmmakers that shows Japanese view more sympathetically. The quotation from the end of the film, by Admiral Yamomoto, is key to understanding U.S. reaction to Pearl Harbor and one explanation for dropping of the bomb.

  • The Firebombing and Deployment of the A-Bomb

Walker, J. Samuel “The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Date.” Diplomatic History 1990 14(1): 97-114.

Examines US President Harry Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan

1945, considering whether it was to force Japan to surrender and thus save US lives that would have been lost in an invasion, to keep the Soviet Union from joining Pacific warfare, or to test expensive weaponry.

Bernstein, Barton J. “Understanding the Atomic Bomb and the Japanese Surrender: Missed Opportunities, Little-known Near Disasters, and Modern Memory.” Diplomatic History 1995 19(2): 227-273.

A new synthesis has emerged regarding the decision to drop the atomic bomb: that the A-bomb was a military weapon to be used and that Roosevelt and Truman were comfortable with this and did not adequately examine their assumptions or the alternatives because World War II had already destroyed the old morality of avoiding noncombatant casualties, and killing civilians had become part of strategy.

Ienega, Saburo. The Pacific War: World War II and the Japanese. 1931-1945


5 - The War in China: A Clash of Politica Values 75-96

6 - The War at Home: Democracy Destroyed 97-128

7 - Japan Extends the War to the Pacific 129-152

8- The Horrors of War 181-202

Alperovitz, Gar. The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, and the Architecture of an American Myth. New York: Knopf, 1995. 847 pp.

Asada, Sadao.The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Decision to Surrender: A

Reconsideration.” Pacific Historical Review 1998 67(4): 77-512.

Drawing extensively on Japanese sources, especially diaries and memoirs of

Japanese leaders, this article microscopically reexamines Japan's decision-making

process, focusing closely on the days between the Hiroshima bomb and surrender in August 1945. It highlights the role of the "peace party," which saw in the bomb the "external pressure" that could be used as leverage to counter the army leaders who clamored for the "decisive homeland battle." To such leaders as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal Kido Koichi, Foreign Minister Togo Shigenori, and Navy Minister Yonai Mitsumasa, the bomb came as a "gift from Heaven," even as American "assistance" to them in their efforts to end the war, but the army remained intransigent. Emperor Hirohito sided with Togo: Only his "sacred decision" could enable the badly divided government finally to accept the Potsdam Declaration.

Bernstein, Barton J. “Shatterer of Worlds: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 1975 31(10): 12-22.

US policymakers in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations had little doubt about the desirability of using atomic weapons both for ending the war in the Pacific and for intimidating the USSR.

Bernstein, Barton J. “The Perils and Politics of Surrender: Ending the War with Japan and Avoiding the Third Atomic Bomb.” Pacific Historical Review 1977 46(1): 1-27.

The ambiguous American response to Japan's offer of surrender on 10 August 1945 strengthened the militarists in Japan and nearly prolonged the war. President Truman and Secretary of State Byrnes were reluctant to retain the Emperor. Byrnes and Truman were concerned about domestic political effects and feared a popular backlash if the surrender terms were not harsh enough. They were therefore willing to consider using a third atomic bomb or mounting a costly invasion of Japan. Based on documents in numerous manuscript collections; 92 notes.
Freedman, Lawrence.THE STRATEGY OF HIROSHIMA. Journal of Strategic Studies [Great Britain] 1978 1(1): 76-97.

Follows the Roosevelt Administration's decisionmaking on the operational use of the first atomic bombs. Cities were attacked because of the lack of significant military targets and to increase the bomb's shock value over conventional strategic bombing, and not for experimental value or to intimidate the Soviet Union. The bombing of Nagasaki was the logical extension of the decision to use the bomb in the first place. Primary sources; 45 notes.

Hoyt, Edwin. Inferno: The Firebombing of Japan, March 9-August 15, 1945. Lanham, New

York and Oxford, 2000.

Harper, Stephen. Miracle of Deliverance: The Case for the Bombing

of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.: Stein & Day, 1986. 224 pp.

Kaspi, Andre. CONTROVERSE: FALLAIT-IL BOMBARDER HIROSHIMA? Transl/Info: [Debate: should the bomb have been dropped on Hiroshima?]. Histoire [France] 1981 (32): 87-91.

Examines the significance of the use of the atomic bomb in the closing days of World War II after President Harry S. Truman returned from the Potsdam Conference. Its use was as a weapon of diplomacy, marking the beginning of the Cold War.

Kumar, Sehdev. GUIDED MISSILES AND MISGUIDED MEN: REFLECTIONS ON HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI.Contemporary Review [Great Britain] 1985 247(1437): 180-187.

Discusses the background and the military, technological, and moral ramifications of the United States' atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Kurzman, Dan. Day of the Bomb: Countdown to Hiroshima. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985. 560 pp.

Levine, Alan J. DROPPING THE A-BOMB IN RETROSPECT. Asian Profile [Hong Kong] 1986 14(4): 315-325.

The American decision to use the atomic bomb was based on the assumption that it would shorten the war by making a military invasion of Japan unnecessary and thus save the lives of hundreds of thousands. However, Japan probably could have been forced to surrender by a blockade and complete destruction of its naval forces. The bomb did lead to the Japanese government's decision to surrender and saved the lives of people in Japanese-occupied countries who faced possible starvation.
Lindee, M. Susan. Suffering Made Real: American Science and the Survivors at Hiroshima.

Chicago: U. of Chicago Pr., 1994. 287 pp.

Newman, Robert P. CAUSERIE AT NASM: MUST WE DECONSTRUCT THE ENOLA GAY NARRATIVES FOREVER? Rhetoric & Public Affairs 2000 3(2): 277-283.

Examines seven works published in 1998-99 on the significance of the Enola Gay's bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, focusing specifically on the contributions of Sadao Asada and John W. Dower, who offer authoritative justifications for America's use of atomic power.


Rendezvous 1972 7(1): 53-69.

Discusses the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, demonstrating the decisionmaking processes during the crisis and raising several moral questions over the second use of the bomb.

Lucas, Scott. “Hiroshima and History.” Modern History Review [Great Britain] 1996-7

(4): 30-33.

Reviews the controversial questions that still surround the decision to drop atomic

bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and historians' apparent reluctance to

explore fully the possible political motives for the bombing.

Maddox, Robert James. Weapons for Victory: The Hiroshima Decision Fifty Years Later.

Columbia: U. of Missouri Pr., 1995. 215 pp.

Marshall, Robert.THE ATOMIC BOMB - AND THE LAG IN HISTORICAL UNDERSTANDING. Intelligence and National Security [Great Britain] 1991 6(2): 458-472.

The senior producer of the BBC History Unit criticizes Sheila Kerr's 1990 critique in this journal of the 1988 BBC Timewatch documentary based on the thesis of Gar Alperovitz in Atomic Diplomacy (1965, rev. 1985) that argued that the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 was for political reasons and was not militarily necessary to end the war. Included are reply by Sheila Kerr, Geoffrey Warner, and D. Cameron Watt.


Marine Corps Gazette 1959 43(2): 20-28.

Describes the events and decisions which culminated in the dropping

of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


DISCUSSION WITH JAMES P. BYRNES.Pacific Historical Review 1972 41(2): 225-230.

Presents with comments a Memorandum by Senator Warren R. Austin concerning a conversation with Secretary of State James F. Byrnes on 20 August 1945. This sheds light on Soviet-American diplomacy at the Potsdam conference and includes information about the relationship between the dropping of the atomic bomb and Russian participation in the war against Japan. Memorandum from the Austin Papers, Guy W. Bailey Library, University of Vermont. 8 notes.


Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 1991 23(1): 3-12.

The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was more a result of the racist attitude of the American government toward the Japanese than of a military need, given the fact that Japan's naval and air powers had been destroyed and that the Soviet Union had decided to send its army to Manchuria against Japan.

EXAMINATION OF GAR ALPEROVITZ'S ATOMIC DIPLOMACY. Amerikastudien/American Studies [West Germany] 1978 23(1): 60-72.

Gar Alperovitz's Atomic Diplomacy (1965) is a polemical revisionist tract. At no time was President S. Truman advised by his military chiefs that Japan was on the verge of surrender or that Japanese capitulation would occur without use of the atomic bomb. Of little value in understanding the circumstances surrounding the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945, Atomic Diplomacy reveals much about the outlook and methodology of one representative revisionist diplomatic historian.
Sigal, Leon V. Fighting to a Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan,

1945. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell U. Pr., 1988. 352 pp.

Skates, John Ray.The Invasion of Japan: Alternative to the Bomb.

Columbia: U. of South Carolina Pr., 1994. 276 pp.


ATOMIC BOMB. Political Studies 1966 14(3): 365-373.

A review article discussing, from the viewpoint of a political scientist, the nature of the decision taken by President Truman to drop the Hiroshima bomb.

World Politics 1962/63 15(1): 138-150.

A review article of Herbert Feis, Japan Subdued: The Atomic Bomb and the End of the War in the Pacific (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1961). Reviews the plans for securing Japanese surrender decided upon in the spring of 1945. The operation of the Japanese government and the characteristics of governmental behavior are

discussed in order to ascertain the reasons for US difficulties in persuading Japan to surrender. He concludes by posing the question: What effect has the actual use of the bomb had on postwar attempts to secure international control?


CAIS Review 1985 5(2): 1-15.

Discusses the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945 and the reasons behind this decision, according to Henry L. Stimson, President Roosevelt's Secretary of War in 1945, including memos and related documents.

Citation: Air Force Magazine 1975 58(2): 55-61. Discusses the role of air power in the war against Japan, 1941-45, relying on conversations between the author and General Curtis Lemay.

Wyden, Peter.Day One: Before Hiroshima and After.New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984. 384 pp.

  • The American Occupation

    • Lewis Erenberg and Susan Hirsch. The War in American Culture

    • John Dower. War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War

    • John Tateishi. And Justice for All: An Oral History of the Japanese Detention Camps

    • Harry Kitano and Sandra Taylor eds. Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress

    • Masayo Duus. Tokyo Rose: Orphan of the Pacific

    • Laquita Vance-Watkins, Mariko Aratani. White Flash, Black Rain: Women of Japan Relive the Bomb

    • Gail Lee Bernstein. Recreating Japanese Women: 1600-1945

    • Ryo Oshiba, Edward Rhodes, Chieko Kitagawa Otsuru eds. We the People in the Global Age: Re-examination of Nationalism and Citizenship

UNIT II: Propaganda, Culture and Constructions of the Enemy


1. Comparative Readings

2. Team Teaching

3. The mobilization of Japanese and American societies before the war

4. Experiences of Japanese and American soldiers

5. The transformation of American and Japanese societies after the war

  • The Loss of Civil Liberties in Japan: Early Showa

    • Ienaga Ch. 6 - The War at Home: Democracy Destroyed 97-128

  • The Media of Propaganda during World War II: Radio, Cinema, Print

    • Radio:

1. Primary medium for Americans during World War II

2. Radio as a tool for government propaganda

3. The transformation of popular culture into wartime culture

4. The contextualization of radio and the development of social, political and economic criteria

5. Wartime radio propaganda and its ramifications with the beginnings of a privatized, consumer-oriented ideology

    • Film:

1. Political Propaganda vs. Entertainment

2. The uniqueness of propaganda through film

3. War films with consumerist designs

4. The discussion of a totalitarian ideology through propaganda films

5. The portrayal of the enemy both German and Japanese

    • Hollywood Censorship During World War II:

1. Film as a cultural battleground

2. Films as regulators of society

3. The influence of combat in home-front movies

4. Racism toward Asians

N.B.: To demonstrate the effects of racism on propaganda, have students view U.S. films about European and Pacific theatres of WWII, comparing U.S.attitudes toward the Japanese and the German peoples.

    • Newsprint:

1. How is the enemy viewed?

2. The threat of the Japanese

3. Arguments for and against the war with Japan

4. The fear of the loss of the colonial and imperialist structures in Asia

  • Select Bibliography: Censorship & Propaganda

    • Abe Nornes and Fukushima Yukio. The Japan/America Film Wars: World War II Propaganda and its Cultural Contexts

    • Hook, Glenn D.”Censorship and the Reportage of Atomic Damage and Casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars . 1991 23(1): 13-25.

Examines the operation of censorship on the reporting of the Asahi Shimbun of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki under Japanese military censorship, 7-14 August 1945, virtually free of censorship, 15 August-18 September, and under the US occupation authorities' Press Law, 19 September 1945-31 October 1949. Comparing reporting under these three regimes sheds light on the "evolution of the nuclear discourse in Japan and, to a lesser extent, the United States."

    • Gerd Horton. Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World War II

    • Matthew Bernstein. Controlling Hollywood: Censorship and Regulation in the Studio Era

    • Justus D. Doenecke. The Battle Against Intervention (Newsprint)


Posters of anti-Japanese war propaganda during World War II.

  • Roeder, Jr., George H. The Censored War: American Visual Experience During World War Two. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993.

UNIT III: Philosophical and Ethical Justification for the Use of the Atomic Bomb

and the Aftermath of World War II on Philosophical Traditions

(Methodology: Discussion)

Paul and Elder, How to Detect Media Bias and Propaganda in National and World News

(Critical Thinking text)

  • The Atomic Bomb



(Truman's statement regarding the bombing of Hiroshima)


(Hiroshima documents, including Trinity diaries, Oppenheimer's phone calls)


(Virtual tour of the Hiroshima Peace Museum)


(Hiroshima Peace Museum homepage)

  • War Theory:

    • Nagel, "War and Massacre" (Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1972)

    • Anscombe, "War and Murder" (Ethics, Religion, and Politics, 1981)

    • Norman, Ethics, Killing, and War (1995)

    • Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (1992)

  • Cultural Amnesia

View: Hiroshima Mon Amour (Renais/Duras)

  • Ethics

    • Lindee, M. Susan. “Atonement: Understanding the No-Treatment Policy of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 1994 68(3): 454-490.

The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission was an American agency set up in 1948

in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to monitor the long-term biological effects of radiation on

the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped there in August 1945. The commission's policy was not to provide any medical treatment for the survivors, who were required to come to the laboratories regularly for testing. The criticism and defense of the policy conflated political anscientific issues. Many thought that providing treatment would appear to atone for the bombing, which the Americans refused to do, despite Japanese pleas. Defenders also argued that the study of radiation effects would be tainted. In practice, many American and Japanese physicians working for the commission did provide treatment both to survivors and to city residents who were control subjects.

    • Korean Hibakusha: Politics and Racism

  • Weiner, Michael.”Out of the Very Stone: Korean Hibakusha.” Immigrants & Minorities [Great Britain] 1995.14(1): 1-25.

The politics of memory in postwar Japan as reflected in the treatment of the forgotten Korean hibakusha..

      • Tong, Kurt W. “Korea’s Forgotten Atomic Bomb Victims.” Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 1991 23(1): 31-37.

About 30,000 Koreans who lived in Hiroshima and Nagasaki survived the atomic bombs in 1945 but were refused equal medical treatment from the Japanese government.

      • Barker, Rodney. The Hiroshima Maidens.: New York: Viking, 1985. 240 pp.


THE 1950'S. Mid-America 1982 64(2): 21-39.

Recounts the experiences of participants in the 1955-56 attempts to provide reconstructive

surgery to 25 young Japanese women, victims of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

Private impetus in the United States generated most of the necessary funds, and the US Air

Force furnished transportation to a New York hospital. American motivation for the effort

seemed to be sympathy rather than guilt. The patients' demeanor, known nationally through

heavy media coverage, favorably disposed American public opinion to the maidens.

Medically, the operations were largely successful; politically, they fostered good

relations between Japan and the United States.

Yamazaki, James N. and Fleming, Louis B. Children of the Atomic Bomb: An American

Physician's Memoir of Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and the Marshall Islands.

Durham, N.C.: Duke U. Pr., 1995. 182 pp.


Ryerson, Andre. THE CULT OF HIROSHIMA.Commentary 1985 80(4): 36-40.

The American cult of guilt over Hiroshima is sensationalist and distorted in light of

overlooked facts on the Japanese revulsion at the idea of surrender and the dearth of choices

available to President Truman in 1945.

  • Bibliography: The Bomb and the Casualties

Beatty, John. “Scientific Collaboration, Internationalism, and Diplomacy: The Case of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission.” Journal of the History of Biology [Netherlands] 1993 26(2): 205-231.
Barker, Rodney. The Hiroshima Maidens.New York: Viking, 1985. 240 pp.
Barnouw, Erik.THE HIROSHIMA-NAGASAKI FOOTAGE: A REPORT. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television [Great Britain] 1982 2(1): 91-100.

Hiroshima-Nagasaki, August 1945, made by Erik Barnouw of the Center for Mass Communication of Columbia University in 1970 from a confiscated Japanese film in the US National Archives, has

been much used by educational and nuclear disarmament organizations, both in the United

States and in Japan.

Barnaby, Frank. THE CONTINUING BODY COUNT AT HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI.Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 1977 33(10): 48-53.

Discusses the ongoing research in long-range effects of exposure to nuclear radiation

following the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan, 1945.
Bird, Kai and Lifschultz, Lawrence, ed. Hiroshima's Shadow. Stony Creek, Conn.: Pamphleteer's, 1998. 584 pp.
Booth, Arthur.ATOMIC BOMBS AND HUMAN BEINGS. International Social Science Journal [France] 1978

30(2): 377-394.

Contributes to the ongoing disarmament debate by asserting the need for closer study of the

atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki than has been carried out to date and points out some areas where the human effects of the catastrophe might be analyzed.

Schull, William J. Effects of Atomic Radiation: A Half Century of Studies from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

New York: Wiley, 1995. 397 pp.
Warren, Shields.HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI THIRTY YEARS AFTER. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 1977 121(2): 97-99.

Medical teams from the military and the Manhattan Project began studying the effects of radiation

on Japanese civilian survivors five weeks after the atomic bombs fell. In 1946 President Harry

S. Truman ordered the National Academy of Sciences to form the Atomic Bomb Casualty

Commission to care for the 100,000 severely affected survivors. The commission also studied

the death rates, chromosome anomalies, and cancer incidences. In 1975 the joint US-Japanese

Radiation Effects Research Foundation took over from the commission and will carry survivor

research to the year 2000.

UNIT IV: COLLECTIVE MEMORY: Memoirs, Oral History, Monuments, Cultural Amnesia

(Methodology: Comparative Analysis; Memorials; Monuments and Deconstruction)

1. The Hibakusha: Seeing and Believing

  1. When were these stories told? By whom? Why or under what conditions? What was the effect of these things on the content and form of the story?

  2. Who do you think was the intended audience? Why?

  3. What effect did the telling (and the position of storyteller) have on the teller? On the listener?

  4. What narrative techniques or patterns were used? (i.e., metaphor; simile; plot construction, or creation of a beginning, middle, and end; mythological or religious imagery; etc.)

  5. In what role did the teller cast him/herself? Others on the same side? The other side?

  6. What explanation/rationalization did the teller use for the events in the tale?

  7. Under what circumstances was the story made public? Why were these stories told rather than others?

Excellent critical sources on analysis of these memoirs: Hiroshima Traces.

o Film:

 Eye-witness accounts of the bombing of Hiroshima, from the video HIROSHIMA WITNESS produced by Hiroshima Peace Cultural Center and NHK (Japan's national TV station)

o Books:

 Hachiya, Michihiko. Hiroshima Diary: The Journal of a Japanese Physician, August 6- September 30, 1945. Warner Wells trans. and ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1955.

 Minear, Richard ed. and trans. Hiroshima: Three Witnesses. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990.

i. Hara Tamiki. Summer flowers.

i Ota Yoko. City of corpses.

iii Toge Sankich. Poems of the atomic bomb.

  1. Kanda, Mikio, ed. Taeko Midorikawa, trans. Widows of Hiroshima: The Life Stories of Nineteen Peasant Wives. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989.

  2. Cook, Haruko Taya and Theodore F. Cook. Japan at War: An Oral History. New York: New Press, 1992.

  3. Selden, Kyoko and Selden, Mark, ed. The Atomic Bomb: Voices from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1989.

  4. Akizuki, Tatsuichiro. Nagasaki 1945: The First Full-Length Eyewitness Account of the Atomic Bomb Attack on Nagasaki. Honeycombe, Gordon, ed.; Nagata, Keiichi, trans. Boston: Charles River Books, 1982.

2. Korean Hibakusha: Politics and Racism

  1. Weiner, Michael.”Out of the Very Stone: Korean Hibakusha.” Immigrants & Minorities [Great Britain] 1995.14(1): 1-25.

The politics of memory in postwar Japan as reflected in the treatment of the forgotten Korean hibakusha..

  1. Tong, Kurt W. “Korea’s Forgotten Atomic Bomb Victims.” Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 1991 23(1): 31-37.

3. The Go-Between: An American Reporting Japanese Tales
Hersey, John. Hiroshima. New York: Knopf, 1985. 144 pp.

Based on interviews with survivors of the blast, both soon after the event and again after a number of years. The book was originally published as a series in The New Yorker. As an account by an American of the Japanese stories, it provides an excellent comparison with the first-person accounts and raises some good questions.

  1. Why did Hersey write the book?

  2. Why did he choose the interviewees he did?

  3. How do the time in which he wrote and his political stance shape the book?

  4. Does that change in the follow-up interviews? This is also a good time to examine our need for neat endings. It is easy to begin a story about the dropping of the bomb, but how do you end it? In his initial interviews, Hersey shaped his stories; he chose to record interviews that had the kind of endings he wanted. When he went back to interview these people years later,

however, he had no choices. How does that affect the epilogue?
4. The Allied Pilot
Tibbets, Paul W. "Training the 509th for Hiroshima". Air Force Magazine 1973 56(8): 49-55.

The author, pilot of the first B-29 to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, recalls the training of the 509 Composite Group which performed the mission.

5. The POW’s
Bardgett, S. "Rendezvous with the Fat Man" Army Quarterly and Defence Journal [Great Britain]1985 115

(3): 340-344.

Notes the fate of Allied prisoners of war who repaired a bridge in Nagasaki only 40 minutes beforeAmerican pilots dropped an atomic bomb (the "Fat Man") on the city.

[France] 1984 (10): 45-49.

Account of the explosion in Hiroshima, Japan of the atomic bomb dropped by the United States 6 August 1945, by a British sergeant who was a prisoner of war in the city at the time.
6. The Power of Memory:
"Memory Myths, Malleabilities, and Madness: A Question of Trauma. Truth, and Testimony"

What do you really remember? Dr. Jonathan Schooler and Dr. Elizabeth Loftus will discuss the highly controversial area of recovered memories. Dr. Schooler is Associate Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and a research scientist at the Learning Research and

Development Center. Dr. Loftus is Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Washington, Seattle.
7. "Words Get in the Way: A Tasteful Exploration"

Can a question influence its answer? Discover the power of verbal

overshadowing--ways in which

words enhance or distract from different sensory memories. Dr. Schooler will arrange a variety of sense-memory experiments, including wine-tasting and jellybean-tasting.
8. Selective Memory/Sites of Memory: Memorials, Commemorations & Exhibitions
Key Text:

Hein, Laura and Mark Selden. eds. Living with the Bomb. Armonk & London: M.E. Sharpe, 1997.


1 - Commemoration and Silence: Fifty Years of Remembering the Bomb in America and Japan (Hein and Selden) 3-36.

2 - Triumphal and Tragic Narratives of the War in Asia (Dower) 37-51.

3 - Between Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima/Nagasaki (Yui) 52-72.

4 - Making Things Visible: Learning from the Censors (Roeder) 73-99.

5 - Patriotic Orthodoxy and American Decline (Sherry) 134-152.

6 - The Mushroom Cloud and National Psyches: Japanese and American

Perceptions of the Atomic-Bomb Decision, 1945-1995 (Asada) 173 201.

  1. Selected Commentaries. Some of these could be used to examine the long- term psychological effects of the bomb, the museums, and the peace movement.

Hayashi, Kyoko.”Ritual of Death” Japan Interpreter [Japan] 1978 1(1): 54-93.

The author, a bomb victim, analyzes the multifaceted significance of the bomb in terms of the Japanese longing for peace and humaneness, and the need to heal spiritual wounds.
Casella, Donna R. “Rebirth and Reassessment: The Oral Narratives of Hiroshima’s A-Bomb Survivors.” Journal of American and Canadian Studies [Japan] 1989 (4): 133-144.

Oral testimonies of 20 hibakusha highlighting the dislocation experienced and the impact of that moment in history on their lives and opportunities.

MEMORY. Diplomatic History 1995 19(2): 275-295. Because the atomic bombing areas were off limits and information was tightly controlled by both the imperial and US military

governments, the Japanese did not begin to comprehend the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and express their reactions to them until several years later, just as the Cold War

was beginning. The coincidence of these two events has shaped Japanese memory of the atomic bombings.
Perlman, Michael. “Memory, Sout, and the Place of iroshima.” Psychohistory Review 1987 16(1): 67-97. Views memory in historical and psychological theory as "a key theme of our cultural imagination," in order to "outline a psychological method of `placing' images associated with the place of Hiroshima in memory which speaks to the present challenge [to our capabilities of memory]. Thus, granting a place of memory to the place of Hiroshima, we will find unexpected psychic values present in the images associated with `the original impact' of nuclear horror." This wide-ranging article considers the importance for ethics of confronting the experience of the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II.
Treat, John Whittier. “Atomic Bomb Literature and the Documentary Fallacy.” Journal of Japanese Studies 1988 14(1): 27-57.

After one author became an "A-bomb writer" as a result of his experience in witnessing and surviving the destruction of Hiroshima, he adopted the approach of naturalism. His obsession with death made it inevitable that he would write about it.
Lifton, Robert Jay. “Psychological Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima: The Theme of Death.” Daedalus 1963 92(3): 462-497.

A survey of interviews held in Hiroshima in 1962 with 75 survivors [hibakusha] of the 1945 disaster. The author describes the "psychological closure" of the victims, and also himself, that allowed them to function in the face of terrible circumstances (Lifton notes that he was progressively less shaken by interviews and, thereby, able to continue his study). The

unsuspected power of the bomb resulted in three widely circulated rumors: that Hiroshima would be poisoned for decades by the bomb, that trees and grass would never again grow there, and that all who were exposed to the bomb would die within three years. Ignorance of the effects of radiation have contributed to a discriminatory attitude toward hibakusha.

Many survivors, although glad to have lived, felt guilty about relatives and friends who were killed.
Trent, John Whittier. HIROSHIMA AND THE PLACE OF THE NARRATOR. Journal of Asian Studies 1989 48(1): 29-49.

Discusses three works by the Japanese author and survivor of Hiroshima, Ota Yoko, Shikabane no Machi, Ningen Ranru, and Han-ningen, in order to explore the relationship between personal experience of the atomic bomb and the author's stylistic and thematic choices. Ota's personal experience of the bombing of Hiroshima found expression in her work, where there is a constant tension between acknowledgement and rejection of the event. This ambivalence and its effect on the writer are explored by looking at these three works, representing the testimonial, documentary, and imaginative styles of novel writing.
Newman, Robert P. CAUSERIE AT NASM: MUST WE DECONSTRUCT THE ENOLA GAY NARRATIVES FOREVER? Rhetoric & Public Affairs 2000 3(2): 277-283.

Examines seven works published in 1998-99 on the significance of the Enola Gay's bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, focusing specifically on the contributions of Sadao Asada

and John W. Dower, who offer authoritative justifications for America's use of atomic power.


Provides a detailed history of the removal and eventual repatriation to Japan of human

remains of atomic bomb victims, focusing on how these body parts functioned as scientific and diplomatic objects. Over 200,000 specimens were sent to Washington from Japan

between 1945 and the mid-1960's. The capacity of these body parts to signify - either as objects of nature or as diplomatic commodities - depends on the institutional contexts in

which they are marked, contested, and exchanged.

Smith, Geoffrey S. BEWARE, THE HISTORIAN! HIROSHIMA, THE ENOLA GAY, AND THE DANGERS OF HISTORY. Diplomatic History 1998 22(1): 121-130.

Reviews Hiroshima in History and Memory (1996), edited by Michael J. Hogan, and History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past (1996), edited by Edward T.

Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt. These works deal with the atomic bombing of Japan and how it affected American culture and memory and how it changed America's sense of itself.
UNIT V Representing the Bomb: Literature, Film, and Theatre
Aims and Objectives

This course offers an exploration of many of the principal novels, poems, plays and films by American and Japanese authors (in English translation) that attempt to represent the phenomenon of the atomic bomb. It is designed to use current critical theory and methods of analysis to examine the ways in which writers and filmmakers use fiction as a medium for experiencing an historical event of nearly ineffable complexity and emotional impact. By stressing comparative and inter-textual readings rather than a single perspective on a subject that defies historical (non-fiction) representation, the course stresses the multivalent possibilities of literary and dramatic accounts, some of them based on real experience, others on the imagination. Among the many questions to be raised:

--How does fiction or drama as a medium add to our understanding of the bomb and its effects?

--What is filtered out or lost through an artistic rather than historic or "fact-based" account?

--Does the author's eyewitness experience or national identity confer authenticity in a fictive account of the bomb?

--Can writers and filmmakers of our time, decades later, offer insights or understanding not possible in contemporary accounts?

--What are the advantages or disadvantages of a literary or cinematic representation of the bomb by comparison with documentaries?

--How does the literature of the bomb compare with bodies of work representing other historic catastrophes, such as the Holocaust or Lisbon earthquake?

--How does medium or genre affect the representation of the bomb (i.e. what patterns of difference are discernible as the subject is taken up by poets, novelists, playwrights and filmmakers)?


Scholarly approaches to the atomic bomb and its consequences have traditionally focused on documentary and historical source materials as well as analyses that are historic, political, economic and scientific in nature. This course hopes to use the insights into psychological and social problems that can be gained through a close reading of works of fiction and drama, or an examination of art and film. It combines history and literature in a re-examination of the atomic bomb through the imaginative media of its time and ours.

Criteria of Assessment

Research Project (5,000 words): 80%

Class Participation and Presentation: 20%
Format: Seminar, lecture video
Using Literature to Capture the Horror of War
Yamaguchi, Yuko. Kazuyo Yamane and Craig Delaney, trans. The Flame of Hiroshima and Article 9 [Hiroshima no Hi]. Kochi, Japan: A Peace Museum Grass Roots House [Heiwa Shiryo-kan Kusa no Ie], 1995. Originally, published by Shin'nihon Shuppan-sha in 1988. Based on a real story of the flame which was taken from Hiroshima and kept burning by an atomic bomb survivor as a symbol for peace. The book is supplemented by Article 9 which renounces war in the Japanese Constitution, translated into twelve languages. The publisher will donate a copy of the book to libraries and peace organizations around the world each time a copy sells. For more information, please contact: A Peace Museum Grass Roots House [Heiwa Shiryo-kan Kusa no Ie]9-11 Masukata, Kochi

Multiple Perspectives of the War in Novels

  • Japanese Novels

    • Ibuse, Masuji. Black Rain. New York: Kodansha International, 1979.

    • Oda, Makoto. The Bomb. D. H. Whittaker, trans. New York: Kodansha International, 1990.

    • Oe, Kenzaburo. Toshi Yonezawa and David L. Swain, trans. Hiroshima Notes. Tokyo: YMCA Press, 1981.

  • American Novels

  • Duras, Marguerite. Hiroshima Mon Amour. Richard Seaver, trans in English. New York: Grove Press, 1961.

  • Stroup, Dorothy. In the Autumn Wind. New York: Scribner, 1987.

One family's reconstruction of its life in Hiroshima from the immediate aftermath of the bombing into the early 1950s.
Multiple Perspectives of the War in Plays

  • Japanese Plays

  • The Island. Produced by the Mingei Company in Japan in 1957.

  • The Head of Mary. Produced by the Haiyuza Company in Japan in 1980.

  • The Elephant. Produced by the Seinenza Company in Japan in 1970.

  • Nezumi Kozo: The Rat. Produced by the Jiyu Gekijo Compnany in Japan in 1969.

Goodman, David. Ed. & Transl. After Apocalypse: Four Japanese Plays of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. (Contains the plays The Island by Hotta Kiyomi, The Head of Mary by Tanaka Chikao, and The Elephant by Betsuyaku Minoru--all three of which will be presented as staged readings in class.)

  • Western Plays

  • Dramatists and the Bomb: American and British Playwrights Cconfronting the Nuclear Age, 1945- 1964. Charles A. Carpenter, Greenwood Press 1999.

Multiple Perspectives on the War in Poetry

  • Toge Sankichi. "Poems of the Atomic Bomb." Hiroshima: Three Witnesses by Richard Minear. See the category "Novels" above.

Literary Criticism

  • Treat, John Whittier. Writing Ground Zero: Japanese Literature and the Atomic Bomb. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.


Ivernel, Philippe.ENTRE KAFKA, BRECHT ET LE PILOTE D'HIROSHIMA [Between Kafka, Brecht, and the Hiroshima pilot]. Austriaca [France] 1992 (35): 79-86. Considers the attitudes of pacifist writer and philosopher Gunther Anders (1902-92) toward Franz Kafka (1883-1924) and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) and relates their pilosophies to the story of Claude Eatherly, the pilot who dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima. Anders corresponded with Eatherly from 1959 to 1961.

Electronic Resources


Postwar Japanese Dance-Theatre: Butoh

BUTOH - Dance Of Darkness

Butoh is more than East-Asian esthetics or an exhibitionist language of form or shape. Butoh is a reflection of the body about the body. A confrontation in the endless fight between the immortal soul and the mortal body. Butoh is to become the other, not to mean the other. Metamorphosis instead of metaphors.

"Kinjiki (Forbidden Colours)" was the title of the performance of Tatsumi Hijikata with which he provocated a major scandal at the Tokyo-Dance-Festival in 1959. This is considered to having been the birth of Butoh-dance, a radical answer to western concepts of dance, the japanese "rebellion of the body". Butoh of the beginning has been pure provocation, resistance against the cultural establishment and the social system. It was experimental, theatrical and physically present, sometimes grotesque, sometimes absurd or mystical.

Tatsumi Hijikata developed with Butoh a complete new language of dance: the naked body smeared all over with white makeup, twisted feet and bodies, cross-eyed gri- maces, the eyes nearly popped out of the head, ... derived from observing nature, trying to be as honest with the body and its experience as can be.

Japanese culture is rich in myths and legends which are still alive. Like these Butoh is looking for the origin. Therefore Butoh often looks more like a heathen ritual than a dance, like phantastic or symbolic pictures. The main theme is always the circle of life and death and it is always the attempt to overcome this contradiction, to overco- me the distance between human beings and the material world. Butoh tells you: the- re is something unknown beyond.

UNIT VI Representing the Bomb: Creation from Destruction
Works of Art
Japan Broadcasting Corporation, ed. Unforgettable Fire: Pictures Drawn by Atomic Bomb Survivors. New York: Pantheon, 1981. 111 pp.
Munroe, Alexandra. Japanese Art after 1945: Scream against the Sky. New York: Abrams, 1994
Shono, Naomi.MUTE REMINDERS OF HIROSHIMA'S ATOMIC BOMBING. Japan Quarterly [Japan] 1993 40(3): 267-276.

A retrospective with seven illustrations in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on 6 August 1945.

Schonberger, Howard. PEOPLE'S ART AS HISTORY: HIROSHIMA SURVIVORS AND THE ATOMIC BOMB. Japan Interpreter [Japan] 1978 12(1): 44-53.

The drawings exhibited at Hiroshima Peace Museum provide a visual frame for the issue of the atomic bomb, demonstrating the terrible varieties of the effects on atom bomb victims.

Museums and Memorials

  • How Do We Choose to Remember?

          • Japanese Museums and Memorialos

          • Ourselves as Memorials

Where Do We Go from Here?

Seltz, Daniel. REMEMBERING THE WAR AND THE ATOMIC BOMBS: NEW MUSEUMS, NEW APPROACHES Radical History Review 1999 (75): 92-108.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum illustrates the tendency of Japanese museums to not provide forums to expand the debate over the history and legacy of World War II, but to present limited narratives of atomic bombs and the war. However, since the 1980's public controversies about the interpretation and memory of the war sparked the construction of new museums which assess the war in different ways. The Kyoto Museum for World Peace, the Kawasaki Peace Museum, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, and Peace Osaka are distinguished by their broad treatment of the issue of war responsibility as well as their focus on peace. These museums represent a new form of public

historical negotiation at a time when new questions are being asked about Japan's wartime past.

Bibliography: The Atomic Bomb


Japan Quarterly [Japan] 1995 42(3): 265-272.

Describes efforts of some Japanese teachers to begin a successful program in introducing their students to primary accounts of what happened during the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in order to make the students think about war and peace and what they mean.
Janet and Salaff, Stephen. NEVER AGAIN: THE ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN ATOMIC BOMB VICTIMS IN OSAKA. Feminist Studies 1981 7(1): 5-18. Hibakusha ("A-bomb received persons") in all of

Japan's prefectures have organized to attempt to solve their medical, emotional, social, and

economic problems. In 1967, Shizuko Takagi and Kazue Miura formed a Women's Section of the

Osaka Association of A-bomb Victims to enable women to participate more fully in the benefits

offered by the government. Today the Women's Section conducts a memoir writing project,

collects data on the physical and psychic aftereffects of the bombing, and works

internationally with other organizations for nuclear disarmament. Excerpts from four of the

life histories.

Hayashi, Kyoko. RITUAL OF DEATH. Japan Interpreter [Japan] 1978 12(1): 54-93.

The author conveys the human dimension of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and her own

experiences as a bomb victim. Part of the multifaceted significance of the bomb deals with

the Japanese longing for peace and humaneness, and the need to heal spiritual wounds.


CENTURY. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 1970 26(7): 32-34.

Describes the antiwar attitudes expressed at the 6 August 1968 ceremony in Peace Park, Hiroshima, on the 25th anniversary of the first use of the atomic bomb on civilians.


The Japanese survivors of the US atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 have,

over the years, sought compensation for the dehumanizing effects of the bombing and have

attempted to alert the world to the bomb's effects. In addition, some Japanese have

recently begun to realize that they, too, dehumanized others in the conquered regions

during World War II and have tried to force their government to acknowledge this point of


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