[csaa-forum] CCR SEMINAR SERIES 09 - Professor Andrew Higson - February 19

Reena Dobson R.Dobson at uws.edu.au
Fri Feb 6 14:39:00 CST 2009


Apologies for x-postings




Centre for Cultural Research

University of Western Sydney 



Professor Andrew Higson (University of York, UK)

Date: Thursday, February 19

Time: 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Venue: The Gallery, Female Orphan School

Building EZ, Parramatta Campus

(view map and directions
<http://www.uws.edu.au/campuses_structure/cas/campuses/parramatta> )

Afternoon tea and cakes will be provided

RSVP: Jacqui Kingi - 9685 9600 or j.kingi at uws.edu.au
<mailto:j.kingi at uws.edu.au> 

Apologies: Cameron McAuliffe - c.mcauliffe at uws.edu.au
<mailto:c.mcauliffe at uws.edu.au>  



Nostalgia isn't what it use to be: heritage films, wistfulness and
contemporary culture
Professor Andrew Higson 

'Ah, those were the days...': this is the wistfulness of modern,
temporal nostalgia, the sense of loss, of unattainability. Conduct a
search for 'nostalgia' on the internet and a plethora of nostalgia sites
appears, dedicated to movie posters and film memorabilia; popular music,
television and radio; motor cars; books; musical instruments; ships;
sweets; cigarette cards; antique fireplaces, bathroom fittings and brass
door furniture - and even the history of computing and the internet.
Nothing seems to be unattainable here. Now, the prevailing sentiment is
'Ah, those were the days... And here they are again right now.' This is
post-modern, a-temporal nostalgia, where the wistful experience of loss
is replaced by a collector's delight in recovery, a consumer's delight
in possessing a past that is no longer irrecoverable.


This paper works its way through a history of nostalgia, in particular
exploring the conceptual distinction between modern and post-modern
nostalgias, contrasting dictionary definitions and critical accounts
with the ways in which nostalgia websites work. While the paper draws on
the work of Jameson, Boym and others, it also argues for the need to
move beyond cultural critique to analyse the popular experience of


The second half of the paper maps these concerns on to the experience of
English heritage films, from the Thatcherite 1980s to the present, and
in particular a film from 2004, Ladies in Lavender. It explores how the
experience of the past (in this case, an outpost of rural England in the
1930s) is reconstructed in the film. But it also explores the extent to
which viewers perceive the film in terms of nostalgia, and if so,
whether this is a positive or negative experience. Finally, it notes the
way in which the film and its reception embody both modern and
post-modern nostalgias. The paper is thus an attempt to marry together
conceptual, formal analysis and the analysis of reception, and to place
the two in the context of a particular cultural history.


Professor Andrew Higson has recently been appointed to the Greg Dyke
Chair in Film and Television at York University after a successful
career at the University of East Anglia where he was inaugural Head of
the School of Film and Television Studies. Running through much of
Andrew's work is a concern for questions of national cinema. He is well
known for his extensive publications on English cinema, including the
much quoted books English Heritage, English Cinema: Costume Drama since
1980 and Waving the Flag: Constructing a National Cinema in Britain. He
has edited three general surveys of British Cinema history and his
co-edited book (with Richard Maltby), 'Film Europe' and 'Film America':
Cinema, Commerce and Cultural Exchange, 1920-1939 was awarded the Prix
Jean Mitry for cinema history in 2000 by the British Film Institute.



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