The concept of trauma is controversial in literature. While one may be able to come up with ways to describe trauma in fiction, representing historical trauma is a hard task for writers. Some argue that trauma can not be described through those who did not experience it, while others claim that, provided some elements are added, one can represent trauma to the reader. This thesis focuses on twentieth-century historical traumas related to a nuclear catastrophe and explores the different literary and testimonial responses to the catastrophic man-made event of Hiroshima (1945). In this thesis, Kathleen Burkinshaw’s historical fiction The Last Cherry Blossom (2016) is used as the primary text while exploring varieties of literary and documentary works, presenting the Hiroshima traumatic events: John Hersey’s Hiroshima (1946), Richard H. Minear’s Hiroshima: Three Witnesses (1990)focusing on only two witnesses Hara Tamiki and Ōta Yōko— and Steven Okazaki’s White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2007). Each work differs in genre, narrative, style, and retelling of the nuclear catastrophe while covering a wide spectrum of literary presentations of historical trauma. The thesis compares the different narrative strategies and depictions in relaying traumas to readers who have not experienced the event firsthand. Furthermore, it sheds light on the political agenda of the nuclear catastrophe in Hiroshima, and how it contributed to the trauma of the survivors.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


English & Comparative Literature Department

Degree Name

MA in English & Comparative Literature

Graduation Date

Spring 6-15-2023

Submission Date


First Advisor

Ferial J. Ghazoul

Committee Member 1

Sonia Farid

Committee Member 2

Steven Salaita


107 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item

Included in

American Politics Commons, Asian American Studies Commons, Asian Art and Architecture Commons, Asian History Commons, Asian Studies Commons, Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education Commons, Central American Studies Commons, Child Psychology Commons, Children's and Young Adult Literature Commons, Civic and Community Engagement Commons, Community-Based Research Commons, Community Psychology Commons, Comparative and Historical Linguistics Commons, Comparative Literature Commons, Comparative Politics Commons, Comparative Psychology Commons, Critical and Cultural Studies Commons, Cultural History Commons, Defense and Security Studies Commons, Demography, Population, and Ecology Commons, Developmental Psychology Commons, Eastern European Studies Commons, Emergency and Disaster Management Commons, European History Commons, Family, Life Course, and Society Commons, Film and Media Studies Commons, Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication Commons, Health Policy Commons, History of the Pacific Islands Commons, Holocaust and Genocide Studies Commons, Human Factors Psychology Commons, Indigenous Studies Commons, Inequality and Stratification Commons, International Relations Commons, Japanese Studies Commons, Language Description and Documentation Commons, Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority Commons, Mass Communication Commons, Migration Studies Commons, Military and Veterans Studies Commons, Military History Commons, Multicultural Psychology Commons, Other English Language and Literature Commons, Other History Commons, Other International and Area Studies Commons, Other Psychology Commons, Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration Commons, Other Social and Behavioral Sciences Commons, Other Sociology Commons, Pacific Islands Languages and Societies Commons, Pain Management Commons, Peace and Conflict Studies Commons, Personality and Social Contexts Commons, Place and Environment Commons, Policy History, Theory, and Methods Commons, Political History Commons, Politics and Social Change Commons, Public Administration Commons, Public Affairs Commons, Public History Commons, Public Policy Commons, Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies Commons, Race and Ethnicity Commons, Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance Commons, Social History Commons, Social Influence and Political Communication Commons, Social Justice Commons, Social Policy Commons, Social Psychology Commons, Social Psychology and Interaction Commons, Social Welfare Commons, Sociology of Culture Commons, South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies Commons, Theory and Criticism Commons, Theory and Philosophy Commons, Theory, Knowledge and Science Commons, United States History Commons, Urban Studies Commons