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nuclear criticism


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


A focus of intense though rather short-lived interest among (mainly) deconstructionist literary critics during the early to mid-1980s. The most influential source text was Jacques D errida's essay “No apocalypse, not now (seven missiles, seven missives),” first delivered at a Cornell University conference in 1984 and then published – along with other contributions – in a special number of the journal Diacritics . This debate examined further a number of themes that were already prominent in the discourse of A vant-garde literary theory. It coincided with a tense period in US-Soviet relations when the right-wing Reagan administration seemed about to abandon the hitherto prevailing doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, that is, the so-called “balance of terror” which (according to nuclear strategists) had so far prevented the outbreak of global war. Thus Reagan took to speaking casually of the Soviet Union as the “evil empire,” while hawkish policy makers such as Caspar Weinberger discussed the prospect of a “limited” (tactical) nuclear exchange which could somehow be contained short of an all-out, annihilating confrontation. In this context it appeared to many that the choice was between two competing forms of lunacy, the one caught up in an escalating “logic” of bluff and counterbluff whose outcome was beyond rational calculation, while the other – in the name of a “new realism” ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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