Monday, 24 October 2016
My current monograph project examines nostalgia in the long fourteenth century. When I started work on this, I hadn't really stopped to think quite how pervasive nostalgia is. I'm used to my own personal rosy-tinted view of the past - and I think it can be something very positive, a way of reminding me what I value and the person I strive to be. Collective nostalgia is a little less obvious - and yet, society is saturated with it.
Right now, we are facing the consequences of the nostalgia-soaked Brexit rhetoric ('take our country back'), the looming threat of Trump's nostalgic appeals to 'make America great again', and a widely-shared sense that Corbyn's politics is one of nostalgia for the socialism of the 1970s. It's very striking that nostalgia operates across the political spectrum - it's an incredibly powerful emotive force, and it can be both radical and reactionary.
As my research starts to come together, I'm going to post regular comments about nostalgia. I'll try hard to alternate reflections on the nostalgia which pervades our modern world, and comments on the hankering for the past which I'm finding in the Middle Ages. The aim will be that an implicit dialogue between eras emerges.