‘The Metaphor That Ate New York,’ and Other Seminars

5 Apr

Now that the thesis is handed in, the mind of the aspiring academic turns to other things. Like, what now? I’m lucky enough to have secured some honours-level teaching here at the University of Edinburgh. It’s great in that I get to design my own courses and see how they stand up in practice.

The first course I’m working on rejoices under the snappy title of Confrontation, Proliferation, Representation: The Nuclear Cold War in Policy and in Public, 1945 to 1989 (see, I told you it was snappy).

 The course begins with a consideration of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and their place within an emerging Cold War. These events thus provide the basis for a study that encompasses the role, significance, and imagery of nuclear weapons across the span of the Cold War.

The result of the Cold War was, in Europe at least, an equilibrium that proved durable for forty years and then dissolved without bloodshed. How far did nuclear weapons contribute to this ‘long peace’? In what ways did nuclear weapons alter (or not alter) the terrain of superpower and wider international relations?

The course will not simply concentrate on the nuclear rivalry between the USA and USSR, but will also examine the place of global nuclear proliferation and the deployment of images of nuclear conflict. Thus, the course will equip students with the knowledge to offer a critical understanding of issues that still affect the world around us.

At least, all of the above is the hope!

With eleven weeks to cover, I’m breaking the course down as follows:

Seminar 1: Do nuclear weapons matter?: John Mueller vs. the World

Seminar 2: Atomic Diplomacy?: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Origins of the Cold War

Seminar 3: A Peculiar Monster: Korea, Castle Bravo, and the Issue of Race

Seminar 4: A Bloody Union Jack on Top of It!: The Anglo-American Nuclear Relationship

Seminar 5: The Brink of Armageddon?: The Berlin and Cuban Crises

Seminar 6: The Metaphor That Ate New York: Nuclear Weapons and Popular Culture, 1950-1969

Seminar 7: Nuclear Apartheid?: The Limited Test Ban and the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty

Seminar 8: That 70’s Show: Superpower Arms Control from Nixon to Carter

Seminar 9: The ‘Islamic Bomb’: Myth or Reality?

Seminar 10: Threads: A British Cold War Nuclear Culture?

Seminar 11: ABLE ARCHER to Reykjavik: Nuclear Arms and the End of the Cold War

So, the intent is to provide students with an understanding of not just the politics of nuclear weapons during the Cold War, but an understanding of they impacted society and culture, and vice versa. As an aspiring academic, it’s a chance to stretch myself in the classroom. I’m also looking forward to engaging in challenging debates and informative discussions with students who bring their own critical viewpoint to bear on the primary and secondary sources.



2 Responses to “‘The Metaphor That Ate New York,’ and Other Seminars”


  1. John Mueller vs the World! | theatomicage -

    […] The Nuclear Cold War in Policy and in Public, 1945-1989. You can find out more about the course here. The syllabus is pretty much done, so I thought I would share the outline of the introductory […]

  2. “Thus it begins…”: Starting to teach the nuclear Cold War | theatomicage -

    […] starts by questioning the relevance of nuclear weapons to the Cold War, then progressing in a broadly chronological fashion through the […]

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