States of suspense

The nuclear age, postmodernism and United States fiction and prose

By Daniel Cordle

States of suspense

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7712-8
  • Pages: 182
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £55.00
  • Published Date: July 2008
  • BIC Category: Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General, Literature: history & criticism, United States of America, USA, Literature


When the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, it precipitated a nuclear age that shaped the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. States of suspense is about the representation of this nuclear age in United States literature from 1945-2005. The profound psychological and cultural impact of living in anticipation of the Bomb is apparent not only in end-of-the-world fantasies, but also in mainstream and postmodern literature. This book traces the ways in which key motifs - the fragility of reality; the fear of closure; the inadequacies of language to represent the world - move between nuclear and postmodern cultures of the Cold War era. Taking three symbolically threatened environments - the home, the city, the planet - the book explores their recasting as 'nuclear places' in literature, and shows how these nuclear concerns resonate with those of other cultures. States of suspense will be of interest to students and scholars of American literature, and postmodern and technological culture. It will also be interest to those more generally intrigued by the cultural fallout of the nuclear age.


Introduction: states of suspense
I The nuclear age
1.The literatures of the nuclear age: fictions of disaster and anxiety
2.The sword of Damocles: the psychology and culture of vulnerability
II Nuclear environments
3. Empty cities: nuclear war and the end of civilisation
4. Shadows on the hearth: the threatened domestic spaces of nuclear literature
5. The fragile planet: articulating global anxieties
III Nuclear reactions
6. Going underground and digging in: the politics of nuclear literature
7. Conclusion and epilogue: the legacies of the first atomic age
Appendix: bomb drills in New York 1951-61


Daniel Cordle is Senior Lecturer in English and American Literature at Nottingham Trent University

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