CFP: [General] Nostalgia and the Shapes of History, London [Proposal deadline March 7 2008]

full name / name of organization: 
J Davies

A Conference at the University of London
Supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council
Friday 13th - Saturday 14th June 2008
Queen Mary, Mile End, London E1
Keynote papers by
Mary Jacobus
Patrick Wright
In association with Memory Studies

There have always been reasons to feel that one's true place in the world
is irretrievably lost in the past. Imagined golden ages seem an essential
form of mediation between the inadequate present and our sense of real
selfhood. Self-consciousness about invoking absent authenticity has been
characteristic of postmodernity, but so too has a feeling of
universalised, unfulfillable longing. And for all the apparent
conservatism of nostalgia, appeals to the lost glories of the past have
been among the most potent of revolutionary battle cries. Nostalgic
desires â€" melancholic, consoling, or bitter â€" still constantly revise the
cultural landscape.
We are looking for papers from across the social sciences, arts and
humanities that reflect on the human habit of looking back on other,
better homes somehow left behind us. We are interested both in papers that
focus closely on the particular pains and pleasures of mourning for a more
comforting age, and in those that open out on to general concerns with
memory, identity, place and history.
Nostalgic experience in any time or place and representations of nostalgia
in theory, literature, film, photography, theatre, fashion, architecture,
art, music and popular culture could all come under scrutiny. Fruitful
topics might include:

Romantic, modern and postmodern nostalgia
Myths of national, ethnic or racial identity and heritage
Pastoral and elegy
Commemoration and public memory
Ecology, ecopoetics and nostalgia
Theories of history
Nostalgia for empire or imperial self-confidence
Primitivism; Rousseau; childhood
Kitsch; consumerism; irony; trauma
Homesickness in the immigrant, ex-pat or exile experience
Purification and exclusionary nostalgia
Political homelands; governments in exile
Ruins, rurality and conservation
Psychoanalysis, self-identity, subjectivity
The future of nostalgia

Papers from postgraduate researchers are especially welcome. Please send
250 word proposals for 20-minute papers to by March 7th 2008.

A selection of papers will be considered for publication in a special
issue of the SAGE journal Memory Studies (
The conference is made possible by the generous support of the Arts &
Humanities Research Council, and at Queen Mary the Humanities and Social
Sciences Graduate School and the Department of English.

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Received on Sat Feb 02 2008 - 07:41:23 EST