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Nostalgia: Origins and Ends of an Unenlightened Disease

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Helmut Illbruck traces the concept of nostalgia from the earliest uses of the term in the seventeenth century to today as it evolves with different meanings and intensities in the discourses of medicine, literature, philosophy, and aesthetics. Following nostalgia’s troubled relations to the philosophical project of the Enlightenment, Illbruck’s study builds a cumulative ar Helmut Illbruck traces the concept of nostalgia from the earliest uses of the term in the seventeenth century to today as it evolves with different meanings and intensities in the discourses of medicine, literature, philosophy, and aesthetics. Following nostalgia’s troubled relations to the philosophical project of the Enlightenment, Illbruck’s study builds a cumulative argument about nostalgia’s modern significance that often revises and thoroughly enriches our understanding of cultural, literary, and intellectual history. Illbruck concludes with an attempt at a reinterpretation and defense of nostalgia, which seduces us to read and think with, rather than against, nostalgia’s wistful yearning for the past. Nostalgia: Origins and Ends of an Unenlightened Disease is a comprehensive, insistent, and profound interdisciplinary investigation of the history of an idea. It should appeal to readers interested in the cultural makings of the Enlightenment and modernity or in the histories of medicine, literature, and philosophy.


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Helmut Illbruck traces the concept of nostalgia from the earliest uses of the term in the seventeenth century to today as it evolves with different meanings and intensities in the discourses of medicine, literature, philosophy, and aesthetics. Following nostalgia’s troubled relations to the philosophical project of the Enlightenment, Illbruck’s study builds a cumulative ar Helmut Illbruck traces the concept of nostalgia from the earliest uses of the term in the seventeenth century to today as it evolves with different meanings and intensities in the discourses of medicine, literature, philosophy, and aesthetics. Following nostalgia’s troubled relations to the philosophical project of the Enlightenment, Illbruck’s study builds a cumulative argument about nostalgia’s modern significance that often revises and thoroughly enriches our understanding of cultural, literary, and intellectual history. Illbruck concludes with an attempt at a reinterpretation and defense of nostalgia, which seduces us to read and think with, rather than against, nostalgia’s wistful yearning for the past. Nostalgia: Origins and Ends of an Unenlightened Disease is a comprehensive, insistent, and profound interdisciplinary investigation of the history of an idea. It should appeal to readers interested in the cultural makings of the Enlightenment and modernity or in the histories of medicine, literature, and philosophy.

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