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Professor Discusses Development of Nostalgia

The latest issue of Oregon Humanities, the magazine of the Oregon Council for the Humanities, features an article by historian Seth Cotlar on nostalgia and its relation to modernity.

Cotlar, an associate professor of history at Willamette, discusses the history and development of American nostalgia and what it means in terms of today's society.

"In a modern American society that, at least on the surface, impels us to value the new over the old and progress over stasis, our nostalgic desires stubbornly affix themselves to that which time has taken from us. ... If we slow down long enough to think about these moments when we are overcome by nostalgia, what we hear is the sound of our psyches humming a mournful counterpoint to modernity's celebratory symphony," Cotlar writes.

Cotlar teaches American history and is currently working on a cultural history of nostalgia in modernizing America from 1776-1865. His book on democratic political thought in the 1790s will be published next year.

Read Cotlar's entire article at http://oregonhum.org/becoming-modern.php. To learn more about his research, visit http://willamette.edu/people/archives/2008/02/radicalism_in_a.html.

04-22-2009