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Creature Features and Consensus: Genre Fiction's Critique of Postwar Atomic Technology
Advisorde Jong, Greta
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Atomic paranoia is generally attributed to the postwar affluence of the United States, diplomatic tensions with the Soviet Union, and the adjustment to extreme scientific progress. However this research project will reveal how "nuclear terror" was the product of a specific historical event, and the public reporting of this event. First, by examining news reports about atomic technology in the 1940s this project will reveal the impact governmental censorship had on presentation of the atomic bomb. This work will also analyze how the atomic bomb was treated as a plot device in works of fiction, specifically those that would be defined as science fiction and fantasy. By examining these works of "genre" fiction, the intention is to show how the evolving depiction of the atomic bomb became entrenched in the American psyche. By drawing comparisons between the treatment of the atomic bomb in the press and in fiction this work traces the evolution of the depiction of the atomic bomb in America during the postwar period. Ultimately this is intended to challenge the historiographical trend of homogenizing the response of the American public to the bomb in 1940s and 1950s, and reveal that it actually experienced a change over time. By following the news reports, this research will identify specific events that contributed to shifts in depiction, and by incorporating genre fiction show how these new images were adopted into public consciousness.