Welcome to The Politics of Nostalgia, a project created by Amanda Hodes, Melissa Patton and Courtney Rozen at American University in Fall 2017.

Our project examines the interdisciplinary nature and widespread influence of the politics of nostalgia. It considers the political function of nostalgia in American society, past and present. The aim of this project is not only to consider contemporary roles and examples of the politics of nostalgia operating both in traditional politics and government, but to also consider the societal implications of politics of nostalgia.

To capture the interdisciplinary nature of nostalgia, our findings are presented in the following three separate but interconnected means: an analytical academic paper, a poetry series, and an interactive article. The three mediums were specifically selected for their ability to convey information and reach a variety of audiences. The interactive article presents a discussion of the politics of nostalgia designed to provide information in a manner easily digested by the general public. The academic paper provides scholarly support and background regarding the politics of nostalgia in the United States, anchoring the project in academia. Finally, the poetry series highlights the creativity and individuality associated with nostalgia, which manifests differently from person to person. The decision to create a website is equally symbolic. The website gives our project a degree of permanency which compliments and deliberately contrasts with the evanescent nature of nostalgia. The website, and its longevity and anchored existence, serve as a foil to the more dynamic and wavering instances and feelings of nostalgia.

  • The interactive article is designed to make academic research accessible to the public. Users can watch videos, listen to audio, click on hyperlinks, and interact with photos.
  • The academic paper will provide a literature review of scholarship on nostalgia, and general context and examples of the politics of nostalgia, in addition to generating an original argument about the use and operation of nostalgia in the presidency since 2000. The paper seeks to answer the following:  Have presidents’ use of nostalgia in official speeches changed since the start of the 21st century? Does President Trump utilize nostalgia at a higher rate than Presidents Bush and Obama?
  • The poetry series uses the form of erasure poetry to explore nostalgia’s political undercurrents. Just as nostalgia can be understood as a form of erasure and projection, erasure poetry takes a found source and blots out words, phrases, or sections in order to excavate new meanings and poems within the piece. By engaging in erasure poetry, the artist reclaims control over nostalgia’s often subconscious erasure and brings it to the realm of conscious decision.

This project was created for the Honors Program Challenge Course at American University during Fall 2017.