Visual and Literary Representations of Memory and Meaning of the Atomic Bomb at Hiroshima-Nagasaki

Gina Palmer, Salve Regina University


The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August and 9 August 1945, respectively, marked an inflection point in humanity’s collective psyche. The effect of this nuclear inflection point on humanity is broad, and memories of the events and their aftereffects are myriad. As such, a chronological approach to memory and meaning of the bomb gives a practical organizing principle—evaluating the history leading up to the bombings, accounts of the bombings and aftereffects, and visual and literary representations of events rippling out from the nuclear inflection point. Memory and meaning of the bomb are examined through two key representations: at Nagasaki through the visual representation of the Urakami Cathedral Atomic Relic and at Hiroshima through the visual and narrative representations of a series of painted murals, the fifteen Hiroshima Panels created by artists Iri and Toshi Maruki from 1950 to 1982. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are technically two separate events, but for purposes of this framework and analysis, they are considered simultaneously to comprise a single dual-event and inflection point marking the start of a new modern nuclear era. This transdisciplinary study examines human experience, condition, remembrance, and meaning-making as illustrated in the context of this single event, with the goal of forwarding a matrix of visual, literary, and new media representations that may be used as a framework for study of the nuclear era that lends context and meaning for current and future understanding and analysis.

Subject Area

Art history|Social studies education|World History

Recommended Citation

Palmer, Gina, "Visual and Literary Representations of Memory and Meaning of the Atomic Bomb at Hiroshima-Nagasaki" (2020). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI28258316.