Yesterday: A New History of Nostalgia

Author:   Tobias Becker
Publisher:   Harvard University Press
ISBN:  

9780674251755


Pages:   344
Publication Date:   05 December 2023
Format:   Hardback
Availability:   Out of stock   Availability explained
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Yesterday: A New History of Nostalgia


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Overview

"A sweeping reassessment of our longing for the past, from the rise of ""retro"" to the rhetoric of Brexit and Trump. Nostalgia has a bad reputation. Its critics dismiss it as mere sentimentality or, worse, a dangerous yearning for an imagined age of purity. And nostalgia is routinely blamed for trivializing the past and obscuring its ugly sides. In Yesterday, Tobias Becker offers a more nuanced and sympathetic view. Surveying the successive waves of nostalgia that swept the United States and Europe after the Second World War, he shows that longing for the past is more complex and sometimes more beneficial than it seems. The current meaning of ""nostalgia"" is surprisingly recent: until the 1960s, it usually just meant homesickness, in keeping with the original Greek word. Linking popular culture to postwar politics in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, Becker explains the shift in meaning. He also responds to arguments against nostalgia, showing its critics as often shortsighted in their own ways as they defend an idea of progress no less naïve than the wistfulness they denounce. All too often, nostalgia itself is criticized, as if its merit did not depend on which specific past one longs for. Taking its title from one of the most popular songs of all time, and grounded in extensive research, Yesterday offers a rigorous and entertaining perspective on divisive issues in culture and politics. Whether we are revisiting, reviving, reliving, reenacting, or regressing, and whether these activities find expression in politics, music, fashion, or family history, nostalgia is inevitable. It is also powerful, not only serving to define the past but also orienting us toward the future we will create."

Full Product Details

Author:   Tobias Becker
Publisher:   Harvard University Press
Imprint:   Harvard University Press
ISBN:  

9780674251755


ISBN 10:   067425175
Pages:   344
Publication Date:   05 December 2023
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Professional & Vocational
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Availability:   Out of stock   Availability explained
The supplier is temporarily out of stock of this item. It will be ordered for you on backorder and shipped when it becomes available.

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Reviews

An elegant, original, enjoyable, and important investigation of the concept of nostalgia and its power. From Paul McCartney’s ‘Yesterday’ to Dua Lipa’s ‘Future Nostalgia,’ Becker shows that the ‘problem’ with nostalgia has never been the peculiar ways it engages with the past. Instead, it is the way nostalgia contests assumptions about progress. After Yesterday, nostalgia really isn’t what it used to be. -- Ethan Kleinberg, Wesleyan University Western cultural critics have been lamenting our loss of optimism and our obsession with the past ever since the 1970s. Why? In his lucid history of arguments about nostalgia, Tobias Becker reveals their unacknowledged clinging to the idea of progress, an idea we seem unable to overcome. -- Philipp Felsch, author of <i>The Summer of Theory: History of a Rebellion, 1960–1990</i> Sha Na Na performed ‘At the Hop’ at Woodstock, six months to the day after the inauguration of the new law-and-order president, Richard Nixon. In his wide-ranging yet incisive book, Tobias Becker explains how two such disparate events could seem to belong to a single history of ‘nostalgia.’ -- Peter Fritzsche, University of Illinois


An elegant, original, enjoyable, and important investigation of the concept of nostalgia and its power. From Paul McCartney's 'Yesterday' to Dua Lipa's 'Future Nostalgia,' Becker shows that the 'problem' with nostalgia has never been the peculiar ways it engages with the past. Instead, it is the way nostalgia contests assumptions about progress. After Yesterday, nostalgia really isn't what it used to be. -- Ethan Kleinberg, Wesleyan University


Author Information

Tobias Becker is an independent scholar based in Berlin who has published widely on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century cultural, intellectual and urban history. He is currently a guest professor at Freie Universität Berlin.

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