The Manhattan Project Turns 80: Reflections on the Nuclear Age

March 12, 2022, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK


2022 sees the 80th anniversary of the official commencement of the Manhattan Project, the vast programme to build the atomic bomb. An undertaking of unparalleled scale and scope, the project’s ultimate success ushered in an era of atomic fear, fantastical atomic utopias, radioactive human and environmental carnage, and legacies up to the present day and into the distant future. The 2022 Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) Winter Symposium takes the Manhattan Project as its starting point in the hope that this will provoke a wide-ranging discussion of the nuclear age and its histories. The symposium will feature an opening keynote by Dr Jonathan Hogg (University of Liverpool) and a closing keynote from Dr Linda Ross (University of Glasgow). There will also be a round table discussion reflecting on the historiographical impact and legacies of Paul Boyer’s crucial 1986 book By The Bomb’s Early Light.

The symposium will take place over one day, on Saturday March 12, 2022, at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK. Individual paper proposals, three-person panel proposals, and roundtables on specific issues are equally welcomed, for example:

  • The political, social, cultural, or environmental legacies of the Manhattan Project/nuclear weapons development
  • The nuclear age in historical perspective
  • Nuclear cultures
  • Nuclear weapons and climate change
  • Race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and the nuclear age
  • Histories of nuclear power in international, national, regional, and local contexts

To help the symposium organisers arrange panels, please note your gender with your submission. HOTCUS is dedicated to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. We will give preference to panels that reflect the diversity of our field in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and institutional affiliation. We will also give preference to panels that include a mix of participants from across the career spectrum (i.e., from postgraduate to professor). Historically women have been disproportionately underrepresented on panels and HOTCUS is taking positive action, as permitted under s.158 Equality Act 2010, to enable and encourage the participation of women. For this reason, all-male panel proposals will not be accepted. HOTCUS may constitute an all-male panel or other presentation where absolutely necessary (but any such consideration will be other than via the call for papers procedure).  HOTCUS would also especially welcome proposals from the BAME academic community, who have historically been under-represented at its events.

If submitting an individual paper, please send a brief CV (no more than two pages) and a 200-300-word abstract of the proposed paper. Panel proposals should contain a 200-300-word abstract for each paper and a brief CV (no more than two pages) for each participant. Please submit your proposals and CVs to Dr Malcolm Craig ([email protected]) no later than January 14, 2022.