Rebekah Baglini (PhD Candidate, Department of Linguistics)
Jonathan Schroeder (PhD Candidate, Department of English)

This project uses emerging techniques of digital analysis to reconstruct the history of nostalgia. One of the chief problems we seek to answer is how "nostalgia," which designated a medical pathology in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries, was transformed into a retrospective, wistful emotion in the twentieth century. Through the permission of Hathi Trust, Baglini (Linguistics) and Schroeder (English) will build a digital database with over 200,000 public domain documents to construct a precise account of the evolution of nostalgia. The larger purpose of this case study is to show the value of constructing and analyzing targeted databases for the writing of conceptual history. To this end, Baglini and Schroeder plan to show how the large-scale analysis of nostalgia transforms established scholarly understandings. This history will serve as a model of how new approaches can contribute to future research in the humanities.

2012-13