Nuclear Memory and Atomic Test Films

Lecture by Susan Courtney
Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 4:00pm

As part of the university-wide lecture series Arts and the Nuclear Age, Susan Courtney, Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of South Carolina, looks at the 1950s. During the decade when the Western genre peaked at the movies and on TV, a massive military project to film atomic bomb tests was taking place in the American West. In light of the simultaneity of these phenomena, Courtney considers how footage of atomic tests helped to shape popular cultural memory of nuclear weapons. More specifically, she asks, what might it mean that Americans learned to live with the bomb through the proliferation of moving images of its detonation in the screen space of American exceptionalism?

Susan Courtney is Professor of Film and Media Studies and English at the University of South Carolina, where she also co-founded the Orphan Film Symposium. She is the author of Split Screen Nation: Moving Images of the American West and South (Oxford University Press) and Hollywood Fantasies of Miscegenation: Spectacular Narratives of Gender and Race, 1903-1967 (Princeton University Press).

Presented by the Department of Cinema and Media Studies. The “Arts and the Nuclear Age” lecture series is supported by the Franke Institute for the Humanities.