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Destroyer of Worlds: War and Apocalypse in the Nuclear Epoch

  • Author(s): Sivak, Andrew Mark
  • Advisor(s): Meister, Robert
  • et al.

Destroyer of Worlds is an interdisciplinary study of the nuclear epoch, emphasizing its theological and philosophical origins and implications. Its core argument is that the purpose of the Manhattan Project was to end war in general, not hasten the end of a particular war. The scientists and politicians who collaborated on the atomic bomb's creation believed that its war-time detonation would be a form of revelatory annihilation, triggering a miraculous chain-reaction which would convert humanity to pacifism. Though they successfully invented and deployed the new superweapon, they failed to engineer their miracle. The dissertation goes on to ask why, examining how the world and humanity were forever changed by the burning of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and also the ways in which they remained the same by closely reading primary historical documents, philosophical and political commentaries, and an array of art objects, both literary and visual.

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