HUMS 360, Nostalgia Epidemic and Cure

Meeting Time: 
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

Course Description:

Nostalgia goes by many names: saudade, mal du pays, Heimweh, to list a few. Though the term was coined in 1688 as a medical diagnosis for homesickness, it has since come to fundamentally shape the way that we imagine our past, present, and future. Often described as a longing for a different time or a simpler past, nostalgia has inspired artists, authors, composers, filmmakers, and thinkers to create masterpieces of longing and imagined worlds. In the realm of politics, on the other hand, nationalist parties have harnessed the sentiment to commit acts of extreme violence. Many contemporary thinkers have classified modern nostalgia as an epidemic to be feared or avoided at all costs. Today, we are witnessing the intensification of politics of nostalgia, which itself has a long history. This course explores that history, and asks the question: if we are all already nostalgic, how can we use our nostalgia for productive, rather than destructive, ends? We consider many facets of nostalgia, both positive and negative, including its close connection with memory, desire, identity, the nation, and even the modern categories of time and space.

Sophomore Seminar: Registration preference given to sophomores. Not normally open to first-year students.

Led by:

Megan Crognale's picture

Professor Megan Crognale

Megan obtained a BA in Music Performance and an MA in Comparative Literature from Northwestern University. Her dissertation is on the phenomenon of nostalgia in Italian Literature in the first half of the 20th century. Her other interests include memory, corporality, alienation and the relationship between literary and philosophical writing.