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posted 3/09/12
Change Over Time
Philadelphia, PA, 191

What is wrong with nostalgia? It is clearly nourished in different ways and at different times in the life of a culture; others hold out obstinately against it. (Contemporary American politics are a case in point.) Yet it is not nostalgia per se, but its crippling effects that can be deplored. The dictionary defines nostalgia as a form of melancholia caused by prolonged absence from ones home or country; as the past is a foreign country, we are liable to be wracked by this severe homesickness. Yet melancholia is not simply a disease. Historic preservation, by its very nature, invites nostalgia to cohabit with an awareness of contemporary needs. A local or small nostalgia by an individual, however, has little to do with a public use of some atavistic, yet maybe sustaining, recall of the past.

This issue will explore the role of nostalgia in preservation: theoretically, as an approach to that melancholy, its sustaining as well as its debilitating effects; also, case studies of buildings or landscapes that explore nostalgia effectively, compellingly, and skeptically, even derisively. We look for a range of topics, and a questioning approach that brings to the specific field of historic preservation a new perspective. There is, in fact, a considerable literature on melancholy, but this issue needs to focus specifically and closely on what Change Over Time can contribute.


Articles are generally restricted to 7,500 or fewer words (the approximate equivalent to thirty pages of double-spaced, twelve-point type) and may include up to ten images. The deadline for submission of manuscripts is June 15, 2012. Guidelines for Authors may be requested from Meredith Keller (cot@design.upenn.edu), to whom manuscripts should also be submitted. For further information please visit cot.pennpress.org.


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