Taking its critical cue from notions of a United States “containment culture,” developed by Alan Nadel and Elaine Tyler May, this article locates Judith Merril’s atomic war novel, Shadow on the Hearth (1950), in early Cold War political contexts. Contrary to readings that see Gladys, Merril’s protagonist, as liberated by her experiences, it argues that the text shows how she remains compromised by the domestic culture that has produced her. Indeed, the scenario of atomic attack is a device that exposes the effects of prevailing domestic ideologies and their origins in the geopolitics of the early Cold War. The suburban home emerges not as a place of retreat from the uncertainties of a newly nuclear and threatening world, but as a crucible in which contemporary anxieties can only be imperfectly contained.
“DO NOT LEAVE YOUR Homes”: CONTAINMENT CULTURE AND ITS FALLOUT IN JUDITH MERRIL’S SHADOW ON THE HEARTH
DANIEL CORDLE (PRINCIPAL LECTURER, NOTTINGHAM TRENT UNIVERSITY) IS THE AUTHOR OF POSTMODERN POSTURES: LITERATURE, SCIENCE AND THE TWO CULTURES DEBATE (ASHGATE, 1999) AND STATES OF SUSPENSE: THE NUCLEAR AGE, POSTMODERNISM AND UNITED STATES FICTION AND PROSE (MANCHESTER UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2008). HE IS AN EDITOR OF THE JOURNAL WRITING TECHNOLOGIES (HTTP://WWW.NTU.AC.UK/WRITING_TECHNOLOGIES/INDEX.HTML).