Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Homesickness

Of Trauma and the Longing for Place in a Changing Environment

2019
Author:

Ryan Hediger

Homesickness

Introducing a posthumanist concept of nostalgia to analyze steadily widening themes of animality, home, travel, slavery, shopping, and war in U.S. literature after 1945

In this book, Ryan Hediger introduces a distinctive notion of homesickness, one in which the longing for place demonstrates not only human vulnerability but also intersubjectivity beyond the human. Arguing that this feeling is unavoidable and characteristically posthumanist, Hediger studies the complex mix of attitudes toward home, the homely, and the familiar in an age of resurgent cosmopolitanism, especially eco-cosmopolitanism.

For anyone who’s felt alienated from a mall, a suburb, a landscape, a culture, or our shared biosphere, this book offers homesickness as a powerful human desire, a mode of interpretation, a corrective to increased mobility, consumer capitalism, and utopian cosmopolitanism, and a hopeful sensibility that connects us with others—exactly what we need in our troubled times.

Jennifer Ladino, author of Reclaiming Nostalgia: Longing for Nature in American Literature

In the Anthropocene, as climate change renders environments less stable, the human desire for place underscores the weakness of the individual in the face of the world. In this book, Ryan Hediger introduces a distinctive notion of homesickness, one in which the longing for place demonstrates not only human vulnerability but also intersubjectivity beyond the human. Arguing that this feeling is unavoidable and characteristically posthumanist, Hediger studies the complex mix of attitudes toward home, the homely, and the familiar in an age of resurgent cosmopolitanism, especially eco-cosmopolitanism.

Homesickness closely examines U.S. literature mostly after 1945, including prominent writers such as Annie Proulx, Marilynne Robinson, and Ernest Hemingway, in light of the challenges and themes of the Anthropocene. Hediger argues that our desire for home is shorthand for a set of important hopes worth defending—serious and genuine relationships to places and their biotic regimes and landforms; membership in vital cultures, human and nonhuman; resistance to capital-infused forms of globalization that flatten differences and turn life and place into mere resources. Our homesickness, according to Hediger, is inevitable because the self is necessarily constructed with reference to the material past. Therefore, homesickness is not something to dismiss as nostalgic or reactionary but is rather a structure of feeling to come to terms with and even to cultivate.

Recasting an expansive range of fields through the lens of homesickness—from ecocriticism to animal studies and disability studies, (eco)philosophy to posthumanist theory—Homesickness speaks not only to the desire for a physical structure or place but also to a wide range of longings and dislocations, including those related to subjectivity, memory, bodies, literary form, and language.
Homesickness

Ryan Hediger is associate professor of English at Kent State University. He is editor of Animals and War: Studies of Europe and North America.

Homesickness

For anyone who’s felt alienated from a mall, a suburb, a landscape, a culture, or our shared biosphere, this book offers homesickness as a powerful human desire, a mode of interpretation, a corrective to increased mobility, consumer capitalism, and utopian cosmopolitanism, and a hopeful sensibility that connects us with others—exactly what we need in our troubled times.

Jennifer Ladino, author of Reclaiming Nostalgia: Longing for Nature in American Literature

Ryan Hediger richly brings to life the feelings of homesickness that infuse cultural production amid the dislocations of capitalism, warfare, and the Anthropocene. His deeply researched and beautifully written book illuminates the experiences of weakness, mortality, and desire for home that have often been overlooked in the environmental humanities.

Teresa Shewry, author of Hope at Sea: Possible Ecologies in Oceanic Literature

Homesickness

Contents

Preface: Climate Change Refugee Nightmares

Introduction: Homesickness

1. Suffering in Our Animal Skins: Uncanny Embodiment, Wildness, and Mortal Place in Annie Proulx

2. Burning Down the House: Weak Agency and the Self Unhoused

3. The Elephant in the Writing Room: Hemingway’s Travels, Eco-Cosmopolitanism, and the Desire for Africa

4. “124 was spiteful”: Forced Mobility and Unhomely Care

5. Shopping as Suffering: Neoliberalism’s Slow Violence, Wal-Mart, and the Fallacy of Free Choice

6. Killing Words in War: Homesick Soldiers and the Shadow of Agency

Conclusion: Dreams of Home: Literature and the Cultural Work of the Posthumanities

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index