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Subjective Experiences of Interactive Nostalgia

Edited By Ryan Lizardi

From explorations of video game series to Netflix shows to Facebook timelines, Subjective Experiences of Interactive Nostalgia helps readers understand what it is actually like to be nostalgic in a world that increasingly asks us to interact with our past. Interdisciplinary authors tackle the subject from historical, philosophical, rhetorical, sociological, and economic perspectives, all the while asking big questions about what it means to be asked to be active participants in our own mediated histories. Scholars and pop culture enthusiasts alike will find something to love as this collection moves from a look at traditional interactive media, such as video games, to nostalgia within all things digital and ends with a rethinking of the potentials of nostalgia itself.

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10. Making Sense of Cultural Crisis: Radical Nostalgia, Iconic Representations, and Popular Culture (Emily Truman)


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10. Making Sense of Cultural Crisis: Radical Nostalgia, Iconic Representations, and Popular Culture


Popular culture is a symbolic space in which the social dynamics of systems of power are explored through practices of representation (Fiske 2010). Further, “revolutionary symbols,” and the counter-cultural narratives they represent, are common themes in North American popular culture, with familiar signifiers such as the raised fist or the silhouette of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara used to evoke the idea of socio-political shifts. While the continued popularity of such symbols is commonly attributed to the promotion of the “radical chic” aesthetic in marketing and advertising,1 thus framing their use as ironic and de-politicized, to explain their significance in this way obscures their potential to contribute to popular understanding of the political. Instead, framed through the conceptual lens of radical nostalgia, this chapter explores the role of popular representations of revolutionary symbols as unique visual modes of expression informing public conceptions of political ideologies and ideals.

In the wake of the 2008–2009 financial crisis, images of revolutionary symbols emerged in North American popular culture to make sense of the changing political, economic and social climate. Three popular “revolutionary icons” linked to this conjunctural moment of crisis included Marie Antoinette, Rosie the Riveter, and Barack Obama, images of which circulated widely in the form of highly visible visual texts (both material and digital) including, t-shirts, collectible toys, posters, magazine covers, newspaper...

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