Teaching the Bomb(s): Alternatives to Oppenheimer from Japanese Visual & Popular Culture

Presented by Kirsten Cather, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, Director of the Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS), UT Austin

This interactive workshop is designed to think through how to teach the bomb(s) using visual and popular culture in a way that is both engaging and ethical. Together, we will consider the pros and cons of using a variety of materials when teaching our current generation of students. These materials range from historical photographs and first-person accounts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to B-horror movies, like Godzilla and from well-known anime like Grave of the Fireflies that itself is based on a semi-fictionalized first-person account of the Kobe fire bombings to student-designed video games created by undergraduate students at UT’s JapanLab.

We will consider together how to navigate between history and representation, fact and fiction, high politics and low-brow popular culture. Given the recent Oscar-winning success of Oppenheimer, I hope this workshop can offer a timely intervention to consider how we might re-present historical traumas today and to what end in our classrooms.