"What Works": Instrumentalism, Ideology, and Nostalgia in Post-Cold War Culture


SMITH Jeffrey Alan

Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Nuclear Criticism was a trend in literary theory that emerged most prominently in the 1980s. While there has been a tendency to remain "silent" in the post-Cold War world, it is essential to temper this suggestion by recognizing scholars who continue to take up questions posed by Nuclear Criticism. This volume explores various contemporary manifestations of nuclear anxiety and advocacy as well as the periodic gaps where critical engagement seems to grow inaudible. The approach is one of reconciliation, an undercurrent of trying to bring the humanities, and theory specifically, into the realm of the "real world," of the practical -- and urgent -- matters plaguing the citizens of a nuclear age. This opening chapter frames the collection by discussing the interrelated roles of instrumentalism, ideology, and nostalgia in the construction of nuclear discourses, arguing that if one role of the critic is to undo such constructions, that job is as important now as it was during the Cold War, or ever. It may be from these traversals of disciplinary bounds -- from theory to cultural studies to film studies and beyond -- that we can recognize a significant future for Nuclear Criticism.