The Rhetoric Of Nostalgia: Reconstructions of Landscape, Community, and Race in the United States' South
AuthorDay, Stacy Lyn
Committee ChairMountford, Roxanne
Miller, Thomas P.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractMy dissertation analyzes the rhetorical nature of nostalgia within American discourse communities. To accomplish this I analyze the construction and manipulation of nostalgia at the Middleton Place Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina, and in Alan Lomax's memoir, The Land Where the Blues Began. Nostalgia is an emotional response to displacement and occurs when an individual is separated either physically or emotionally from a specific time and place. Because an individual cannot simply return to the place and moment that they long for, nostalgia is hard to remedy and easy to manipulate. The danger of nostalgia is that although it seems individual, it is controlled by social expectations. Because nostalgia can be socially controlled and manufactured, it serves the communal needs of a society rather than the needs of the individual. Therefore, nostalgia can entrench an individual even more deeply into the constructions of their society. In this manner, nostalgia acts as a mechanism of restraint in society, and history based upon or associated with nostalgia becomes a history of containment.My project argues that we recognize the rhetorical work achieved by nostalgia. Three elements must be present if nostalgia is to be rhetorical: it must be purposefully evoked, satiated, and impact the community. Here I define rhetorical activity as any activity that seeks to persuade an individual or a community towards any action. This project analyzes how sites of public memory evoke and satiate nostalgia in their visitors, and reveals the actions that sites request of their visitors. I argue that these sites familiarize their visitors with a time and a place that the visitor cannot have full access to. Because of this, the visitor is displaced and nostalgia is evoked. Sites of public memory then respond to that same nostalgia through the presentation of values, ideals, and beliefs. Consequently, visitors depart sites of public memory with reinforced and realigned values and--due to their newly acquired discourse community--a community of fellow participants. It is in this way that public sites of memory evoke nostalgia for rhetorical ends.