The Promise of Nostalgia: Reminiscence, Longing and Hope in Contemporary American Culture, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

The Promise of Nostalgia

Reminiscence, Longing and Hope in Contemporary American Culture, 1st Edition

By Nicola Sayers


216 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780367134983
pub: 2020-01-23
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780367134990
pub: 2020-01-08
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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’



About the Author

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

About the Series

Routledge Research in Anticipation and Futures

Anticipation Studies encompasses scholarship and research into the ways in which ideas, fears, hopes and models of the future inform action in the present. Anticipation Studies is a new field that aims to build interdisciplinary dialogue between the many scholars and researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences who take the relationship between ideas of the future and action in the present as a subject of inquiry. This might include scholars working on individuals, cultures, societies or organisations in fields as diverse as psychology and literature, governance and innovation, design and management studies.

This book series will be a platform for the emerging, interdisciplinary field of Anticipation Studies. The series will enable academics and practitioners from a wide range of fields across the humanities and social sciences to engage in lively debates across disciplinary perspectives and so to deepen their understanding of Anticipation as a phenomenon, a way of knowing and a social, anthropological and cultural reality. Single and co-authored monographs are welcome, as well as edited volumes and shortform books.

We are particularly interested in the following generative questions that might be explored across a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary domains:

Uncertainty – how is the problem of ‘not knowing’ the future understood, valued, explored and addressed in different contexts?

Cultural Diversity – what are the different cultural and historical traditions of anticipation and how might they complement or challenge each other?

Innovation, Experimentation & Agency – how are ideas of the future translated into action?

Equality and Access – what resources are required to support anticipatory practice and how are these patterned socially, culturally, economically?

Anticipatory Emotion & Affect – what non-cognitive and non-rational elements drive anticipatory practices? With what implications?

The Dangers of Anticipation – when does anticipation become pathological, dangerous or risky to individuals, organisations and societies?

Temporality – what models of time underpin anticipatory practice?

Please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]) to submit proposals.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General
NATURE / Ecology
SCIENCE / Environmental Science