The Promise of Nostalgia : Reminiscence, Longing and Hope in Contemporary American Culture book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9780367134983
Published January 16, 2020 by Routledge
226 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations

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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’



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