Photographic (Over) Exposures in the Nuclear Age in Joyce Carol Oates’s You Must Remember This

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Joyce Carol Oates’s novel, You Must Remember This, examines themes of memory, time, and nostalgia through verbal descriptions of iconic and fictional photographs (such as Rocky Marciano, Holocaust Victims, Atomic Mushroom Clouds, Rita Hayworth). An analysis of the photographic imagery in the novel reveals discrepancies between surface appearances and embedded social and cultural ideological contexts within the work. Photographs are shown to undermine the overt conformity and conservatism of postwar America by exposing its underlying uncertainties and tensions. These tensions are explored through the perspective of a rebellious adolescent female, whose struggles highlight Oates’s critique of power, violence, and postwar era constructions of gender.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-39
Number of pages39
JournalBearing Witness
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Literature
  • photography
  • Nostalgia
  • Photography
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Memory
  • postwar America
  • Atomic bomb
  • Rita Hayworth
  • Imagery
  • Ideology
  • American literature
  • Oates, Joyce Carol (1938- )


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