This project seeks to better understand the sinister cultural impacts of nuclear weapons in America through its literature and that literature’s attempts to resist the oppressive, atomizing structures that the nuclear epitomizes. Through a reading of three postmodern novels: Thomas Pynchon's 1973 Gravity’s Rainbow, Don DeLillo’s 1986 White Noise, and David Foster Wallace’s 1996 Infinite Jest, this project explores the relationship between the movement and nuclear weapons. In doing so, it calls for a new historical understanding of America’s engagement with nuclear weapons throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. This perceptual shift reveals a far deeper entanglement with nuclear weapons than many historical accounts suggest and requires us to reckon with postmodern literature as a form specifically of and for the nuclear age.


Shaya, Greg




American Literature | American Popular Culture | Cultural History | Literature in English, North America | Modern Literature | Social History


Nuclear, nuclear weapons, postmodernism, postmodern literature, Pynchon, DeLillo, Wallace, David Foster Wallace

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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