Special Issue "Contemporary Nostalgia"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Niklas Salmose

Department of Languages, Linnaeus University, P G Vejdes väg, 35195 Växjö, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: twentieth and twenty-first century literature and film; popular culture; intermediality; the anthropocene; nostalgia; affect theory; senses

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We live in societies oriented towards the now and the tomorrow, in a world obsessed with a complex and protean present seemingly impervious to historical continuity. The many tomorrows inherent in every new technology, product, and digitally mediated event drive us further away from our collective histories. Yet the present seems stubbornly rooted in the past, as Zygmunt Bauman so convincingly argues in his last work Retrotopia (2017). This occurs both politically, as in the repeated re-ignition of history’s buried fires, ranging from the emergence of ISIS as an ultra-nostalgic force to the re-emergence of a nostalgic hard-right in European politics, and culturally, as in the persistent return of cultural production and consumption to a number of key points in our history in a restless and always unsatisfied attempt to reinterpret, reuse, or replay that which is seemingly vanished. This retrospective orientation is observable in all major contemporary media forms and social practices. Romantic inclination towards the past might seem irrational, but our emotional connections to our own biographies, as well as a collective solidarity with our childhoods, traditions, imaginations, anticipations and dreams may also be a rational response to modern instability. Nostalgia, then, appears increasingly to be a modality of its own with major potential for understanding how our now is shaped by our then, both individually and collectively.

Papers are invited that will discuss pressing contemporary issues (politics, social, climate, economics) through a nostalgic discourse and how these issues resonate in media, art and culture. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

Memory, Affect, Subjectivity. Research within this field could explore the centrality of this sort of personal nostalgia to contemporary cultural production, examining key texts such as the Proustian project of Karl Ove Knausgård’s six-volume My Struggle.

Nostalgia and Empire. Empire and nostalgia permeate media of any kind even to this day. We see this in films like The English Patient (1996), for instance, as in computer games like Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun (2003), but we certainly also see it in the news, in the hopes that Brexit can reestablish the importance of a Britain reduced in power, or that electing Donald Trump can ‘Make America Great Again’ by returning to former days of military glory. Imperial nostalgia is here to stay. Indeed, some may argue that it never went away in the first place.

Migration and Exile. Who, indeed, could experience of the pain of the impossibility to return home implied in the etymology of the term nostalgia more acutely, more persistently, and more hopelessly, than the refugee or the exile, who all too often literally cannot go home or has no home to go home to. But as Charles C. Lemert has pointed out “dispossession” is the “ubiquitous condition of a globalizing world,” and thus not exclusive to literal communities of exile: global neo-liberal capitalism makes exiles out of us all, and one response to this state is nostalgia.

The Anthropocene, the Post-human, and Utopian-Dystopian Imaginaries. The fear of loss of stable humanity, both in the Anthropocene and Post-human condition, might be interpreted as reactionary and conservative, but these concerns are indeed real, and need to be negotiated in any utopian ideas of a human future on this planet. This sparks, as in romanticism, a desire to return to the slower rhythms of rural and mythical life, preindustrial routines and traditions, and a belief of an untouched human heart and nature. What role will nostalgia play in negotiating planetary and human future in the era of ecological crisis?

Dr. Niklas Salmose
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Nostalgia
  • Media
  • Art
  • Affect
  • Empire
  • Exile
  • Anthropocene

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle The Second World War, Imperial, and Colonial Nostalgia: The North Africa Campaign and Battlefields of Memory
Humanities 2018, 7(4), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040113
Received: 14 September 2018 / Revised: 26 October 2018 / Accepted: 2 November 2018 / Published: 8 November 2018
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Abstract
The article addresses the function of (post)colonial nostalgia in a context of multidirectional memory (Rothberg 2009) in contemporary Europe. How can different cultural memories of the Second Word War be put into respectful dialogue with each other? The text is based on a
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The article addresses the function of (post)colonial nostalgia in a context of multidirectional memory (Rothberg 2009) in contemporary Europe. How can different cultural memories of the Second Word War be put into respectful dialogue with each other? The text is based on a contrapuntal reading (Said 1994) of British and Egyptian popular narratives, mainly British documentary films about the North Africa Campaign, but also feature films and novels, and data from qualitative interviews collected during ethnographic fieldwork in Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt, during visits 2013–2015. The study highlights the considerable differences between the British and Egyptian narratives, but also the significant similarities regarding the use and function of nostalgia. In addition, the Egyptian narrative expresses a profound cosmopolitan nostalgia and a longing for what is regarded as Egypt’s lost, modern Golden Age, identified as the decades before the nation’s fundamental change from western-oriented monarchy to Nasser’s Arab nationalist military state. The common elements between the two national narratives indicate a possibly fruitful way to open up for a shared popular memory culture about the war years, including postcolonial aspects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Nostalgia)
Open AccessArticle ‘As If There Was No Fear’: Exploring Nostalgic Narrative in Bo Carpelan’s Novel Berg
Humanities 2018, 7(4), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040106
Received: 15 September 2018 / Revised: 24 October 2018 / Accepted: 26 October 2018 / Published: 31 October 2018
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Abstract
This article addresses nostalgic experience and aims at a definition of nostalgic narrative through textual analysis. The target text is Bo Carpelan’s Berg (2005). The novel is analysed with narratological methods focusing on the narrative modes and the techniques of narrative mediation that
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This article addresses nostalgic experience and aims at a definition of nostalgic narrative through textual analysis. The target text is Bo Carpelan’s Berg (2005). The novel is analysed with narratological methods focusing on the narrative modes and the techniques of narrative mediation that invite a nostalgic experience in the reader. This side of the phenomenon—the textual aesthetics of nostalgia—has been explored by few scholars, whereas the contextual and cultural aspects of nostalgia have received a lot of attention. This article suggests further ways of analysing how a text evokes nostalgic experience, and thus considers the nostalgic experience of the reader as the definitive core of nostalgic narrative. The nostalgic experience in Berg is intense, reflective, and ambivalent. These qualities are produced on the level of both the narrative discourse and the story: by changes between the narrative modes and by the nostalgic and non-nostalgic content that builds and breaks the idealised narrative. The article suggests that more attention should be paid to the complexity of nostalgic narratives. Furthermore, it highlights that by creating reflectivity and contradictions, the non-nostalgic content also affects the nostalgic narrative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Nostalgia)
Open AccessArticle Atoning for Nostalgia in Ian McEwan’s Atonement
Humanities 2018, 7(4), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040105
Received: 15 September 2018 / Revised: 22 October 2018 / Accepted: 25 October 2018 / Published: 29 October 2018
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Abstract
Many critics have pointed out the ambiguities of Atonement, a postmodernist anti-nostalgic novel that brings to the fore all the traditional topoi of Englishness in order better to denounce them as sham. In Atonement, the nostalgic longing is linked to the
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Many critics have pointed out the ambiguities of Atonement, a postmodernist anti-nostalgic novel that brings to the fore all the traditional topoi of Englishness in order better to denounce them as sham. In Atonement, the nostalgic longing is linked to the desire of Briony (the protagonist/narrator) for a return to a state of innocence which, I will argue through a close analysis of the text and its recurring images, is as much an atoning for her crime as a longing to be at-one in a state of harmony. Literally utopian, this nostalgic longing appears as a fantasy of omnipotence by an immature ego. Yet Briony’s being born into a writer entails a facing of the other within the self, an atoning for her nostalgic bias, not by erasing it, but by acknowledging her full responsibility in it, a process the reader is also invited to go through. From a regressive quest, nostalgia thus turns into an opening to otherness and to new potentialities. The unbridgeable gap between nostalgic desire and its fulfilment is what fuels our longing, keeps us alive and allows for creation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Nostalgia)
Open AccessArticle Into the Texan Sunset: Metanostalgia, Retro-, and Introspection in Lars Gustafsson’s “Where the Alphabet Has Two Hundred Letters”
Humanities 2018, 7(4), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040103
Received: 14 September 2018 / Revised: 14 October 2018 / Accepted: 18 October 2018 / Published: 22 October 2018
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Abstract
If restorative nostalgia concentrates on national past and future and reflective nostalgia on individual memory (Boym 2001), Lars Gustafsson’s “Where the Alphabet Has Two Hundred Letters” does neither. This article argues that Gustafsson’s treatment of the past landscape is metanostalgic, in the
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If restorative nostalgia concentrates on national past and future and reflective nostalgia on individual memory (Boym 2001), Lars Gustafsson’s “Where the Alphabet Has Two Hundred Letters” does neither. This article argues that Gustafsson’s treatment of the past landscape is metanostalgic, in the sense that nostalgia is a theme and a means, rather than a sentiment, and that the way his tropic reinvention deals with nostalgia differs from other uses. Though the poem partakes in the pastoral tradition, it is less concerned with this mode and more concerned with the notion of ‘effect’, of which Gustafsson has written extensively. Gustafsson has also elaborated on the aspects of ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’, notions that are used to define and extend the poetic landscape and the speaker’s position in, and relation to, it. His poetic landscape encompasses the extremes of continents near and far, but also landscapes temporally removed, which may hold a different status in terms of their impact on ‘effect’, a status that is then not hinging on the obvious hierarchies of traditional nostalgia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Nostalgia)
Open AccessArticle There’s No Nostalgia Like Hollywood Nostalgia
Humanities 2018, 7(4), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040101
Received: 15 September 2018 / Revised: 12 October 2018 / Accepted: 18 October 2018 / Published: 19 October 2018
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Abstract
This essay argues that the complexities of the nostalgic impulse in Hollywood cinema are inadequately described by Svetlana Boym’s particular description of Hollywood as “both induc[ing] nostalgia and offer[ing] a tranquilizer” and her highly influential general distinction between restorative and reflective nostalgia. Instead,
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This essay argues that the complexities of the nostalgic impulse in Hollywood cinema are inadequately described by Svetlana Boym’s particular description of Hollywood as “both induc[ing] nostalgia and offer[ing] a tranquilizer” and her highly influential general distinction between restorative and reflective nostalgia. Instead, it contends that Hollywood departs in important ways from the models of both the restorative nostalgia established by the heritage cinema and Great Britain and the reflective nostalgia commonly found in American literature. Using a wide range of examples from American cinema, American literature, and American culture, it considers the reasons why nostalgia occupies a different place and seeks different kinds of expressions in American culture than it does in other national cultures, examines the leading Hollywood genres in which restorative nostalgia appears and the distinctive ways those genres inflect it, and concludes by urging a closer analysis of the more complex, multi-laminated nostalgia Hollywood films offer as an alternative to Boym’s highly influential categorical dichotomy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Nostalgia)
Open AccessArticle ‘Vision Isolated in Eternity’: Nostalgia Catches the Train
Humanities 2018, 7(4), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040095
Received: 9 August 2018 / Revised: 20 September 2018 / Accepted: 22 September 2018 / Published: 30 September 2018
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Abstract
Nostalgia for steam trains in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries offers a further example of the varying responses to railways evident ever since their first development in the nineteenth century. Several of these responses contributed to, and illustrate, the changing roles of
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Nostalgia for steam trains in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries offers a further example of the varying responses to railways evident ever since their first development in the nineteenth century. Several of these responses contributed to, and illustrate, the changing roles of temporality, memory and nostalgia in the literature of the modern period. In particular, though modernist literature is often critical of the contribution railways and their timetabling made to the mechanisation of the modern age, the writers concerned also develop affirmatively the new possibilities of momentary, memorable vision which rapid travel offered to the imagination. The development of this kind of vision in modernist writing allows certain forms of intense memory to be recognized as historically specific, though also, as always, shaped by nostalgia’s idiosyncratic, personal aspects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Nostalgia)
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