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Nostalgia and the Displacement of Identity: A Time-Based Analysis of the Unheimlichkeit of Nostalgia

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Title: Nostalgia and the Displacement of Identity: A Time-Based Analysis of the Unheimlichkeit of Nostalgia
Author: Feuerhahn, Niels
Department: Department of Philosophy
Program: Philosophy
Advisor: Houle, Karen
Abstract: The aim of this dissertation is to offer grounds for a revaluation of nostalgia. The thesis that I put forth and defend is that nostalgia, properly understood, is endemic to what it means to be a sovereign, self-responsible individual. In the experience of nostalgia we apprehend the temporal essence of our being; not merely of our subjective, empirical being, but of the being that appertains to us by virtue of being a sovereign individual that we are and that exposes us to the possibility of nostalgia. Put differently: in genuine nostalgia, i.e., where nostalgia is experienced by the subject who is capable of experiencing nostalgia, this subject becomes aware of her temporal essence. The notion of nostalgia's essential Unheimlichkeit serves as the guiding thread of the exploration of the topography of nostalgia's place in the history of ideas. I show that we fail to do justice to the ontological complexity of nostalgia if we reduce nostalgia as an experience and as a concept to the (marginal) psychological phenomenon of 'nostalgia proper'. By revealing the complex ontology that makes nostalgia possible, my dissertation seeks to prepare the ground for future engagements with nostalgia that will no longer be confined by the discourse of nostalgia proper, but will rather reckon that the image of such a "proper" place of nostalgia in the history of ideas is incompatible with the diffuse situatedness of nostalgia in the history of ideas.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/8993
Date: 2015-07


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