UCSB Santa Barbara Department of History logo

Topics in the History of Science


About the Course:

Intensive study of specific problems in the history of science. Topics vary from year to year, and students may therefore repeat the course for credit.
Repeat Comments: May be repeated for credit.
This graduate level readings course examines the histories of nuclear weapons and
nuclear war. One main goal is to explore the role of nuclear weapons as historical actors
and threats/fears of nuclear war as a force that shaped the 20 th century. In other words –
nuclear bombs are more than weapons of war and mass destruction and they produce
particular cultural, social, and political effects that differ over time and across space. This
part of the course will focus primarily on states with nuclear weapons (or those that want
them). Another goal is to think about various manifestations of “nuclearity” from the
discovery of radioactivity c. 1900 to the present-day. Because I am historian of science
and technology, my approach to the topic comes from that perspective. But I interested in
the intersection of nuclear war/weapons with political, social, environmental, et al.
histories as well. This is not a course in Cold War diplomacy or international relations,
however! It is a course that examines, from a comparative perspective, the social,
political, environmental, ethical, and cultural transformations that occur once a state
acquires either nuclear bombs or nuclear energy.


No pre-requisites have been entered for this course.


View the course’s Canvas page or the instructor’s page for documents: W. Patrick McCray   

Schedule of Courses

Go to the Schedule of Courses on the Registrar's website to register or view scheduling information on all courses.