The View from Ground Zero: Teaching the Bomb through Literature


The View from Ground Zero: Teaching the Bomb through Literature

A NCTA Workshop for K-12 Educators

February 21, 2023

 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time


Teaching U.S. History, World History, Literature or even Elementary? 
Join us for a workshop that explores the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the lens of Japanese literature. The dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki remains the only time that nuclear weapons have been used on a civilian population. Even though it occurred over 75 years ago, the trauma of the bombing persists in the bodies of survivors, the politics of the U.S.-Japan relationship, and the literature of postwar Japan.  
Scholars Shawn Bender and Alex Bates will provide you with an overview of the decision-making process that led to the dropping of the bomb, initial responses to the bombing in the U.S. and Japan, and the political dimensions of memorializing the bomb in the U.S. and Japan, including censorship of the Enola Gay exhibition at the Smithsonian. The workshop moves next to two personal narratives crafted into short stories by Japanese authors. These include versions of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, for elementary to high school students, and Hara Tamiki’s first-person account “Summer Flowers,” which is most appropriate for the high school students.  
All participants will receive a set of books after the program for classroom use as well as a certificate of completion. Pennsylvania teachers will receive Act 48 hours for this program.
Open to all US K-12 Educators, Priority Give to educators in: Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia 

If you have any questions, please contact Shawn Bender at


Learn more about our presenters 



Alex Bates, Associate Professor of Japanese Language and Literature, Dickinson College 

Professor Bates is a specialist in modern Japanese literature and film. In addition to survey courses in these areas, he has taught courses in Japanese youth culture, war in fiction and film, ecocriticism, East Asian film, and cinematic adaptations of Japanese literature. Professor Bates's book on representations of the 1923 earthquake that destroyed Tokyo was published by the University of Michigan, Center for Japanese Studies Press in 2015. His research in this area has continued into other natural disasters in modern Japanese culture, including Japan's 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster. Other research interests include ecocriticism, urban modernism, and early post-war Japanese literature and film. 



Shawn Bender, Associate Professor East Asian Studies and Anthropology/Archaeology, Dickinson College 

Professor Bender earned his doctorate in cultural anthropology at the University of California, San Diego in 2003. At Dickinson he teaches courses on contemporary Japanese society, popular culture, music, demographic change, health and aging, and technology. Since the late 1990s, Prof. Bender has conducted ethnographic fieldwork with taiko drumming groups in Japan. This scholarship is the basis of his book entitled Taiko Boom: Japanese Drumming in Place and Motion (2012, UC Press). He has also examined the introduction of traditional musical instruments in primary and secondary school curricula in Japan. More recently, his research has focused on the connections among discourses of demographic crisis, changes in elder care, and the development of robotics in Japan and Europe. This work has taken him both to Japan and to Denmark (where some Japanese robotics technologies have found a home). Prof. Bender is also affiliated with the department of Anthropology at Dickinson and the Health Studies Certificate Program. He has received numerous research grants from such institutions as the Japan Foundation and the Japanese Ministry of Education. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies and in Social Science Japan Journal. 




The View from Ground Zero: Teaching the Bomb through Literature - A NCTA Workshop for K-12 Educators
Tuesday, February 21, 2023 - 19:00 to 20:00
Online Lecture
Event Location: 
Online via Zoom