The Atomic Infinite: Aesthetics of the Sublime in l950s Science Fiction Film

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Jackson, David




This thesis undertakes an aesthetic analysis of the sublime in 1950s American science fiction film. Although a number of scholars have analyzed this period of science fiction, little attention has been paid to aesthetics. Scholars have mostly looked at narrative, examining metaphors for nuclear anxiety in these films. I take these readings further, arguing that nuclear anxiety is the basis for a particular aesthetic style, one reflecting the sublime. In making my argument I refer to the discourse of the sublime including theorizing of the atomic bomb as an object of the sublime. I extend this discourse into film, arguing the atomic bomb sublime finds its way into the monster films of 1950s American science fiction. In reconciling the atomic bomb sublime, 1950s American science fiction develops a particular aesthetic style and in so doing, must mediate the technology of the atomic bomb through film’s own technology.


Art History




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Film Studies

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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