Project 2 - Cultural Anxiety and the Atom Bomb
When the author
William Faulkner accepted the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950, he echoed
a gnawing fear felt by most Americans: "Our tragedy today is a general
and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear
it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question:
When will I be blown up?" Along with the pride in scientific achievement,
we all had to live with the possibility that our world had irrevocably changed
and that we might all be annihilated.
IN THIS PROJECT:
- Find out
more about how these fears became part of popular culture.
create a web page, with an original title,
in which you briefly illustrate and describe at least one example from
four (4) of the categories listed below.
- Now, assume
that you are a teenager in Middletown, U. S. A., in the 1950s and that
these images and ideas are a part of your life.
for your viewer a day from your ‘50s life in which all of your
free to be creative here!
CATEGORIES (you must choose 1 example from 4 of these categories)
Music - Who could forget hits like "50 megatons"
or "Old Man Atom"?
Movies - We worked out our anxieties by screaming at the monstrous
results of atomic testing gone wrong:
Giant Gila Monster (1959)
A west Texas teenager who wants to be like Elvis fends off mutant
desert reptile with the help of his friends.
of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Researchers on a remote island disappear at the claws of mutant crustaceans.
my personal favorite – giant atomic mutated ants. The picture
closes with the apocalyptic lines: "We haven’t seen the
end of Them . . . . We’ve only had a close view of the beginning
of what may be the end of us."
of the Giant Leeches (1959)
You get the picture . . . .
Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Creature with the Atom Brain (1956)
Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman (1958)
Or we transferred
our Cold War fears of invasion from Communists to aliens:
Came from Outer Space (1953)
Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
find plot summaries & posters on the web for all of these.
Civil defense drills, fallout (bomb) shelters, and the Emergency Broadcast
System - We had to be prepared for the mushroom cloud.
Toys and comics – Maybe if we played with it, we could
somehow control it.
Art or literature – Artists and writers confronted the
anxiety of the decade.
Your choice – Find another example of atomic influence
in popular culture.
some websites to start you off:
people hailed rather than feared the atom and thought it would take us
to new heights:
you interested in art? New York became the center of the art
world in the 1950s as a young group of artists known as abstract expressionists
grappled with the post-war reality of man’s vulnerability and irrationality:
The Authentic History Center:
title for your page
- 400 –
500 words of text
parenthetical citations for all material either paraphrased or directly
of sources for both text and images at the bottom of your page in MLA
- At least
name that reflects your project
- Link from
your menu page to the project and from the project back to the menu
to an at least one external website, opening in a new window, that gives
your viewer additional information
- Alt tags
- At least
1 thumbnail of an image
due: March 26
Defense poster.” Online Image. Civil Defense Museum. 9
February 2004. <http://www.civildefensemuseum.com/artgal/artgallery.html>.
Dr. Solar, Man of the Atom. Online Image. Authentic
History. 9 February 2004. <http://www.authentichistory.com/images/1950s/atomic_comics/atomiccomics01.html>.