We’ve spent a fair amount of time in this class talking about how perception plays a major role in defining a disaster. For the unit on Windscale, the class did an experiment: initially, you found historical, contemporaneous news stories on this nuclear accident in the Times of London , without knowing any details of the event. At that point, I asked you to come up with an argument about what happened based on the 5 most interesting articles you found, which also formed a coherent narrative or had a similar theme. The idea was for you to put yourselves in the shoes of someone in Britain encountering the event as it unfolded and see what impression you got.
Next, you will read recent articles and watch a documentary about Windscale to see how only recently has the historical narrative of what happened started to solidify. For many years, what the public knew about the event was partial, incomplete, and inaccurate. At this juncture I want you to think big: what kind of a disaster was this? What caused it? And, would you have gotten this impression if you hadn’t watched the documentary or a similar historical narrative, but only seen the event unfold in news media at the time? What do your answers to these questions tell us about disasters that we might not already have understood?
These are all questions I want you to keep in mind as you write your next essay in the blog comments. For that essay I want you to focus on the following: How did your impression of the incident at Windscale change between the time you did your article search in the London Times and after seeing the documentary? Use specific evidence from your news articles (cite the article title and date of publication using parenthetical citations) and specific details from the film to support your argument. (500-600 words, due Monday, October 7th by 10AM.) Be mindful of the advice and comments I gave you with your grade on the first essay post.