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Workshop ‘Approaches to Nostalgia’


In recent years nostalgia has dominated not only global political discourses (from MAGA to Brexit to a pre-Bolsonaro ‘nostalgia for dictatorship’), but the cultural output of Hollywood and Netflix as well. Now, in the COVID-19 crisis, we witness and experience longings both for pre-pandemic times and a parallel now, for the other lives we would be leading had they not been interrupted by the virus. As the crisis, particularly in the global north, waxes and wanes, the idea of ‘lockdown nostalgia’ has also emerged.

In academia, the past two decades have seen an unabated critical interest in nostalgia across disciplines, particularly in cultural history. This workshop invites you to develop your understanding of, and critical approach to, nostalgia, a concept that has been notoriously hard to categorize. Is it an emotion? A physical disease? A ‘social disease’? A ‘time-strategy’? The ‘mutant form’ of history?

During this workshop, we will

  1. Discuss and determine methods for identifying a culturally-specific nostalgia. This process will include: reviewing extant approaches to nostalgia; developing and framing research questions about the relationship of nostalgia to a given research object; using these questions to apply critical/textual analysis to a given object.
  2. Give very brief, informal presentations on how they approach and analyse nostalgia in their work. These presentations will provide some insight into students’ methodological choices: what questions they ask of a given object, why/how they see nostalgia operating in/behind a given object. From the work on methodology, students will clarify their own understandings and definition of nostalgia relevant to their objects of research.

Learning outcome

Through preparatory reading, workshop discussions and methodological exercises, and presentations, we will develop expertise in nostalgia studies. We will refine both their understanding of nostalgia and their critical approach to the nostalgia(s) at work in their research objects.

Preparation: Reading the texts provided. In addition to the readings, you will prepare: 1) you own definition of nostalgia; 2) research questions about nostalgia.*

Conditions for ECT: Presentation during the workshop.


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