"In the Good Old Days" - The Idea of Nostalgia

Course Description

This course is designed to introduce you to the concept of nostalgia and how it has been handled in the literature of the Western canon. While the focus of this course will be on the literary history and implications of nostalgia, it will also address the scientific and cultural history of nostalgia and will include readings from non-fiction and from the psychological sciences. The readings for this class will draw from multiple time periods and traditions with the aim of encouraging students to think critically and complexly about nostalgia’s implications, the ambivalent treatment it has received in writing, and its intricacy as an emotional state.

The readings for this course cover a wide variety of authors and are chosen to offer a multitude of perspectives on the topic of nostalgia. Beginning with classical works such as Homer’s Odyssey and moving through literary fairy tales, gothic writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Poe, and into 20th and 21st-century discussion of political nostalgia and the psychology of nostalgia, this course takes a broad approach to the subject. Some of these readings may prove challenging thematically and stylistically, but the aim of the course is to encourage active discussion around these readings and the ideas they present. They are occasionally grouped with secondary texts, often presented and discussed in class. Assignments include a personal reflective piece at the end of the first week and an analytical essay at the end of the second week. In addition, you will begin each day with reflective writing responding to a prompt, and to the readings, that will help them hone their ideas and formulate critical arguments about the texts they read. In the second week, students will give short (~10 minutes) presentations on a subject of their choosing, which can relate to their topic for their final analytical paper.

During this course, you will:

• Acquire a transhistorical understanding of how nostalgia has been portrayed and discussed in multiple contexts. • Learn about nostalgia in literature, science, and Western culture.

• Discuss representations of nostalgia and their implications in broader discussions of politics, history, literature, and personal meaning.
• Practice thinking and writing critically using primary and secondary sources.
• Practice critical debate and analysis of both primary and secondary sources.
• Be able to reflect upon nostalgia’s role in society and in your personal life with a critical eye.


There are no preresquisites for this course. It is open to all high school-aged students.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 20, 2022 - July 01, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Atticus Doherty
Course Number: 10338