PERFORMING ARTS

Was It Yesterday? Nostalgia in Contemporary Film and Television

State Univ. of New York Pr. Jun. 2021. 294p. ed. by Matthew Leggatt. ISBN 9781438483498. $95. FILM
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This highly academic collection of essays compiled by Leggatt (English and American literature, Univ. of Winchester, UK) questions our often-simplistic assumptions about nostalgia, generally defined as a longing for the past. Using examples from film and TV across genres, from the silent era to today, contributors (mostly academics) investigate nostalgia from the viewpoint of the audience, the cast and crew, and the medium itself; they also consider merchandise and fan cosplay. There exist similar titles that cast a critical eye on issues relating to gender, sexuality, and capitalism in film and TV while weaving in philosophic and psychoanalytic theory, but this work goes further by also examining the role of privilege and systemic racism in yearning for a past that never was.
VERDICT A well-researched and scholarly volume that’s recommended for academic libraries supporting film studies departments or psychology departments with a strong psychoanalytic focus. Public libraries that support communities in the film industry may find it a helpful addition too.
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