The sensibility of the state: Lookout Mountain Laboratory's Operation Ivy and the image of the Cold War "Super"

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In 1953 a Hollywood-based U.S. Air Force film studio, Lookout Mountain Laboratory, produced a documentary film about America's first detonation of a thermonuclear device, the 1952 "MIKE" device. The film, called Operation Ivy, was initially shown only to the highest-level government officials, but a later, edited version was eventually released for public distribution. We argue that the story of Operation Ivy illuminates not only the ways in which the rhetoric of the "Super" was managed but also the way in which the Cold War state was both subject to and productive of political and aesthetic sensibilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-44
Number of pages44
JournalRhetoric and Public Affairs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Political rhetoric
  • movies
  • atomic bombs
  • cold wars
  • cameras
  • air forces
  • national security
  • mayors
  • weapons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

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