The Atomic Bomb and the Technological Imperative

Jan 19, 2023
Social Sciences 201
1126 E 59th St
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James NolanWilliams College



How has technology taken on a life of its own, determining human behavior, thought, and actions in unintended and unexpected ways?  Using the development and use of the first atomic bombs as a defining case study, this lecture reflects on the technological momentum that helped to usher in the nuclear age and that remains a defining and determinative feature of modern society.

This event is free and open to the public. It is made possible through the support of ‘In Lumine: Supporting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition on Campuses Nationwide’ (Grant #62372) from the John Templeton Foundation. Questions can be directed to



Students and faculty are also invited to join us Friday, January 20 at 2PM for a master class on Hope, Suffering and the Atom Bomb with Professor Nolan. Readings will be provided to all registrants. See our event page for more detail.


James Nolan is the Washington Gladden 1859 Professor of Sociology at Williams College. Professor Nolan’s teaching and research interests fall within the general areas of law and society, culture, technology and social change, and historical comparative sociology. His most recent book, Atomic Doctors:  Conscience and Complicity at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, was published with Harvard University Press in 2020. His previous books include What They Saw in America: Alexis de Tocqueville, Max Weber, G.K. Chesterton, and Sayyid Qutb (2016); Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing: The International Problem-Solving Court Movement (2009); Reinventing Justice: The American Drug Court Movement (2001); and The Therapeutic State: Justifying Government at Century’s End (1998). He is the recipient of several grants and awards including National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships and a Fulbright scholarship. He has held visiting fellowships at Oxford University, Loughborough University, and the University of Notre Dame.