Fall 2021 - HIST 390 D100

Studies in History I (4)

The Bomb: A Cultural History

Class Number: 4001

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Mon, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including six units of lower division history.



Special topics.


“The Bomb”: A Cultural History

The development and use of the world’s first atomic weapons during the Second World War marked a major turning point in human history. Since 1945, the threat of nuclear war/destruction has played a major role in global politics across national, international, and imperial spaces. In this course, we will explore the history of “the bomb,” from research and resource extraction to “experimental” and wartime detonations of multiple nuclear bombs and their devasting, toxic aftermaths. Becoming more familiar with the scientific, military, and geopolitical aspects of nuclear weapons and warfare as history during the post-1945 period, we will focus on representations of and responses to “the bomb” by examining a range of cultural historical sources and artifacts, including: graphic history, memoir, literature, poetry, painting, sculpture, photography, film, music, digital media, and more.

: While the formal prerequisites for this course are 45 units, including nine of lower-division history, students with 45 units and six units of lower-division history are welcome to register as well. Please e-mail the instructor for more information.


  • critical reading: understanding and responding to scholarly argument and interpretation
  • visual/media/digital literacy: exploring and learning to use a range of scholarly sources and tools in different media
  • research: formulating compelling research questions; finding and analyzing primary and secondary sources
  • writing: developing skills in different genres while working in stages including free writing, co-writing, drafts, peer response, and revision
  • oral communication +: engaging in group discussion and presentations online via Canvas and in person


  • Course participation 15%
  • Short Papers (3 x 1000 words) 45%
  • Research Project 40%


*Assignments and grading may be adjusted before the term begins.



Jonathan Fetter-Vorm’s Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb has been ordered through the SFU Bookstore. All other required course materials will be accessible in electronic form via the SFU Library or the Canvas course site for HIST 390.

Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.