Julie Staggers

Learning to love the bomb: Secrecy and denial in the atomic city, 1943-1961

Julie Marie Staggers

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2006 pp: 137
  • Advisor: Sullivan, Patricia
  • Source: DAI-A 67/09, Mar 2007
  • Subjects: Rhetoric, Composition, American History, Risk Communication, Cultural Anthropology
  • ProQuest Document Number: 1221727011
  • ISBN: 9780542866289
  • UMI Number: AAT 3232241


    • This dissertation theorizes risk communication and rhetoric at the intersection of workplace and lived space. This project explores the connection between rhetoric, technology, risk, and the military-industrial complex using a Manhattan Project plutonium plant as its historical case. By applying Foucault’s archaeological method to a study of discourse and power in the workplace and in the company town associated with the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, this project interrogates the acceptance of risk by nuclear workers in the first decade of the Cold War. While most studies of risk in the disciplines of technical communication and risk communication focus on observations of workplace behavior, this project attempts to redefine the social space of technical culture by analyzing rhetorical practices at the Hanford Engineer Works (now Hanford Nuclear Reservation) and in the government-owned workers’ village of Richland, Washington, which housed the majority of the facility’s managers, technicians, and scientists. Drawing on scholarship in professional and technical writing, risk communication, and cultural studies, I argue that risk communication must expand its research sites and methods in order to properly account for the production and acceptance of risk in risk industry towns.