Master Class on "Hope, Suffering, and the Atom Bomb"

Jan 20, 2023
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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James NolanWilliams College


Open to current students and faculty. Others interested in participating should contact All registrants will receive pdfs of the selected readings, which should be read in advance of the class. This event is made possible through the support of ‘In Lumine: Supporting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition on Campuses Nationwide’ (Grant #62372) from the John Templeton Foundation


Following the August 9, 1945 dropping of the second atomic bomb ever used in a military conflict, residents of Nagasaki responded in a unique and surprising way to the vast destruction visited upon their city. As reflected in the writings of Nagasaki radiologist Takashi Nagai, the community emphasized peace and forgiveness, rather than rage, retribution, and political activism. This class will use the example of Nagasaki to consider theologically informed perspectives on the meaning of suffering.



Nagai, Takashi. Selections from The Bells of Nagasaki. Kodashana America Inc, 1994.  

John Paul II. Salvifici Doloris. Dicastery of Communication - Vatican Library, 1984.

John Paul II. Appeal for Peace at Hiroshima. February 5, 1981.



Image of Takashi Nagai. Creative Commons

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.