Cover

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Half title, Series info, Title page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I have been fortunate to have many forms of help in writing this book: scholarly, financial, technical, personal, and certainly others that I will only be aware of in retrospect. I offer my thanks to an industrious team of research assistants who have helped me with a variety of tasks over the past several years: Shakti Brazier-Tompkins, Joel Fonstad, Michael Horacki, Graham Jensen, Jade McDougall, and Corie Wiehe. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

Following the detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb in New Mexico and the use of the weapon on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the Manhattan Project and the oft-proclaimed father of the atomic bomb, became an American hero. ...

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Part I. Reading Oppenheimer

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pp. 15-20

In a well-known piece of nuclear criticism, the philosopher Jacques Derrida asserts that, because Hiroshima and Nagasaki represented the end of a conventional war rather than the beginning of a nuclear one, nuclear war has not yet occurred and remains “fabulously textual.” ...

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Chapter 1. Desert Saint or Destroyer of Worlds: Oppenheimer Biographies

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pp. 21-45

The life of J. Robert Oppenheimer—and how his life has been represented in textual and other forms—is important to understanding his cultural meaning. For this reason, this chapter opens with a short biographical sketch. Born April 22, 1904, in New York to wealthy German-Jewish immigrant parents, Oppenheimer attended the Ethical Culture School as a boy and showed early proclivities for both science and the arts. ...

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Chapter 2. Under the Sun: Oppenheimer in History

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pp. 46-76

Readers often judge the “accuracy” of a biography (or, for that matter, a novel or a film) on the basis of its resemblance to the “truth” of the historical record. Despite a given text’s acknowledgment of the gaps in the record and the textual strategies used to account for such gaps, biographies are frequently read with the assumption that history is an objective referent for texts. ...

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Chapter 3. History Imagined: Oppenheimer in Fiction

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pp. 77-102

To conclude the first part, on textual iterations of Robert Oppenheimer, I turn to fiction. Biographies, which I discuss in the first chapter, show an indebtedness to fiction when they speculate about the psychological states of their subjects, recreate conversations between individuals, or even simply when their literary qualities challenge conventional understandings of truth.1 ...

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Part II. Visualizing Oppenheimer

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pp. 103-116

From the startling images of the unseen that marked Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of X-rays in 1895 to the “pinprick of a brilliant light” (Lamont 235) and the solar metaphors that came to characterize the Trinity explosion, many of the tropes in early nuclear science involve sight, light, and other dimensions of visuality characteristic of Enlightenment thought (including the word “enlightenment” itself): ...

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Chapter 4. The Ghost and the Machine: Oppenheimer in Film and Television

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pp. 117-144

Photographs “of” Oppenheimer—images in which he is both present and absent—emerge from a twentieth-century convergence of technologies. The beginning of the century saw what Akira Mizuta Lippit calls the “extreme, even excessive modes of visuality” (30) offered by inventions such as X-rays and cinema, ...

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Chapter 5. “The Bony Truth”: Oppenheimer in Museums

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pp. 145-176

Before discussing the representation of Robert Oppenheimer in museums, places in which the materiality of history assumes prominence in depicting the past, I wish briefly to discuss another “transitional” genre, one that (like novels and films) fictionalizes its subject but (like museums) makes use of material representation: drama. ...

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Part III. Knowing Oppenheimer

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pp. 177-184

In 1982, about one million demonstrators gathered in New York to protest nuclear weapons. Earlier that same year, in Paris, philosopher and historian Michel Foucault delivered the lectures that would eventually be published as The Hermeneutics of the Subject. ...

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Chapter 6. In His Own Words: Oppenheimer’s Writing

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pp. 185-208

In 1916, when he was only twelve years old and after having been in correspondence with several New York area geologists, Robert Oppenheimer was invited to give a talk to the New York Mineralogical Club. Unaware that they had invited a young boy, the club was bemused when he showed up, laughed when he could not see over the lectern, but gave him a “hearty round of applause” (Bird and Sherwin 15) when the awkward child finished his talk. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 209-214

In a farewell speech delivered to the Association of Los Alamos Scientists in November 1945, Oppenheimer began with a disclaimer about his participation in postwar nuclear regulation: “I could not talk, and will not tonight talk, too much about the practical political problems which are involved. ...

Notes

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pp. 215-240

Bibliography

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pp. 241-258

Index

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pp. 259-268

More books in this series

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