1st Edition

The Promise of Nostalgia
Reminiscence, Longing and Hope in Contemporary American Culture

ISBN 9780367134983
Published January 15, 2020 by Routledge
226 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

The Promise of Nostalgia analyses a range of texts – including The Virgin Suicides, both the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides’ and Sofia Coppola’s screen adaptation, photography of Detroit’s ‘abandoned spaces’, and blogger Tavi Gevinson's media output – to explore nostalgia as a prominent affect in contemporary American cultural production.

Counter to the prevalent caricature of nostalgia as anti-future, the book proposes a more nuanced reading of its stakes and meanings. Instead of understanding it as evidence of the absence of utopia it contends that there is a masked utopian impulse in this nostalgia ‘mode’ and critical potential in what has typically been dismissed as ideological.

This book will be of interest to scholars, graduate students and upper-level undergraduate students interested in contemporary culture, cultural theory, media studies, the Frankfurt School, utopian studies and American literature and culture.

Table of Contents


Personal Preface



1 Nostalgia: Is It Really Not What It Used To Be?

2 Memory, Nostalgia, Utopia and Time

3 Nostalgia as ‘Gold-bearing Rubble’


Interlude 1 The Hole in the Whole: Utopia Contra Instrumental Reason

4 The ‘Strange Magic’ of Style Rookie and Rookiemag

Interlude 2 A Space Outside: Utopia as Negation

5 Memories of Longing in The Virgin Suicides

Interlude 3 Marshalling the Past: Utopia versus Once Upon a Time

6 Nostalgia in Photographs of Detroit’s ‘Abandoned Spaces’



View More



Nicola Sayers recently completed her PhD at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK