Philosophy of Nostalgia: Affectivity, Media and Politics

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Title: Philosophy of Nostalgia: Affectivity, Media and Politics
Authors: Massantini, Leonardo
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Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Achim Stephan
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Alessandra Fussi
Abstract: In this thesis I investigate nostalgia, focusing on the relationship between this phenomenon and the environment, in particular media and politics. I adopt the theories of situated affectivity to understand this complex affective phenomenon that has determined some of the most recent social and political changes. This thesis is divided in five chapters. In chapter 1 I analyse two different tendencies present in the current debate of nostalgia. According to some, nostalgia must be interpreted as a phenomenon primarily about time, so much so that nostalgia can be neatly distinguished from homesickness, which is the longing for a beloved faraway place. The other school of thought does not distinguish so neatly between nostalgia and homesickness and presents nostalgia as a longing for a time inseparable from space and vice versa. To better frame this problem, I present a digression on the history of the concept of nostalgia. This digression also allows me to discuss the role that the very invention and “evolution” of the word “nostalgia” has had in our conception of it. In chapter 2, I analyse nostalgia as an emotion. More specifically I investigate the role that memory and imagination play in personal, non-displaced nostalgia. First of all, I differentiate actual nostalgia from similar phenomena, such as involuntary memory, then I analyse the processes of selection, revaluation and renarration of the past that take place in nostalgia. In chapter 3, I analyse nostalgia as a form of “desire for the whole”. In order to discuss this expression, I present Plato’s myth of the Androgynous and I discuss the notion of existential feeling, which will also require an analysis of nostalgia as an embodied feeling. I then use the results of this first part of the chapter to explain the relation between identity and nostalgia, to account for displaced nostalgia and to discuss nostalgia as “philosophical feeling”. In chapter 4, I explore how material culture and mass media can be used as scaffolds (e.g. supports) for nostalgia and how these supports can be manipulated externally by discussing Slaby’s concept of mind invasion. In chapter 5 I analyse in what sense and to what extent nostalgia can be collective and I show how collective nostalgic narratives can play a major role in our social and political lives.
Subject Keywords: Nostalgia; Situated Affectivity; Media; Politics; Mind Invasion; Affective scaffold; Imagination and Memory
Issue Date: 5-Apr-2023
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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