Imagining a New Eden in the Nuclear West



This article investigates the “atomic bucolic,” a type of pro-nuclear imagery that combined technological futurism and agrarian nostalgia. Its wasteland-to-farmland promises fit into the Edenic recovery narrative described by Carolyn Merchant. As with any instance of the bucolic, however, we must pay attention to what is present and what is absent. The blooming desert depicted in a 1940s magazine ad was a far cry from the nuclear-powered destruction and contamination taking place in the American West and elsewhere.

Author Biography

Chris Fite, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Chris Fite is a PhD student in History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and a Graduate Fellow at the Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture. His research draws on science studies, religious studies, queer theory, and postcolonial studies. His dissertation, “To Begin Again and Again,” will explore cosmogony in the hexameral commentaries of early Christianity. He has published essays and reviews in NOTCHES, Journal of the History of Biology, and various other places. Chris holds a BA in History from Samford University and MA in Public History from the University of South Carolina.

Illustration of a desert landscape with nuclear technology and infrastructure.