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“The Man of the Hour”: Hawthorn(e), Nebraska and Haunting

Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, B143 Bowland North, Lancaster LA1 4YW, UK
Received: 13 March 2019 / Revised: 7 April 2019 / Accepted: 8 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Memory, Affect, and Cinema)
PDF [246 KB, uploaded 17 April 2019]


This paper provides a close reading and critical unfolding of central themes and motifs in Alexander Payne’s acclaimed 2013 comic ‘road movie’ Nebraska. It focuses on three key issues: (1) the symbolic significance of hawthorn as a threshold between different worlds (Hawthorne, Nebraska being the former hometown to which father and son make a detour); (2) the notion of ‘haunting’ in relation both to ‘importuning’ memories besetting the central characters and to particular sites of remembrance to which they return; and, (3) how the film’s pervasive mood of melancholy is subject to repeated interruption and punctuation by comic utterances and put-downs. In presenting us with a reluctant ‘gathering of ghosts’, a veritable phantasmagoria, the film articulates a particular sense of nostalgia, of a ‘homesickness’ understood here not in the conventional meaning of a longing to return to a forsaken ‘home’, but rather as a weariness and wariness at the prospect of revisiting familiar haunts and reviving old spirits. View Full-Text
Keywords: memory; film; dreamworlds; arcades; ghosts; haunting memory; film; dreamworlds; arcades; ghosts; haunting
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Gilloch, G. “The Man of the Hour”: Hawthorn(e), Nebraska and Haunting. Arts 2019, 8, 53.

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