The last writing assignment from my Topics in the Novel class asked a simple question that applied our discussion of books like Ragtime, …Kavalier and Clay, and Boneshaker:
What part of our current culture will illicit nostalgia in the future? (see below for full text)
I got some really good answers. Even the ones that seemed obvious had interesting reasoning. Some choice samples:
- Twitter (“Just as the road was the place to be [for the kids in American Graffiti], the internet has become the place to be now.”)
- Paperback books (“Paperbacks will be marketed for nostalgia, like guitars that are made exclusively for collectors [with logos or facsimiles of famous musicians’ guitars] and not meant to be played. I don’t think Buddy Holly looked at guitars this way…”]
- Dubstep (“Nostalgia happens when people are immersed in a strong niche culture, like dubstep.”)
- Harry Potter (“He’ll be a continued phenomenon like Mickey Mouse, who can appear in almost any context and trigger an emotional response, as we saw in Waldrop’s “Heirs of the Perisphere.”)
- Farmville (“It already reminds people of a quainter time, and will itself become quaint.”)
- Match.com (“Perhaps as dating becomes even colder, more removed and less personal, and marriage becomes obsolete, our current generation will yearn for the reliability of an online dating profile and the personal connections made over subsequent dates at Starbucks”
What would you pick? Would love to know other folk’s answers. The whole question is below.
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Over the course of this semester, we have discussed the iconography of nostalgia/desiderium, particularly the twentieth-century variant prevalent during the last sixty years. This list has included everything from major cultural moments (World War II, The 1939 World’s Fair, the birth of bebop jazz, and others), real or fictional iconic figures (Buddy Holly, Harry Houdini, Mickey Mouse, etc.), or material objects that elicit enthusiasm (cars, comic books, records, guitars, etc.). Pick an icon of your choice from contemporary society and argue that it/she/he will be viewed nostalgically in the future. For contrast, point to some analogue from the icons we’ve already covered in class.