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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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11. Assessing the Political Possibilities of Interactive Nostalgia (Sally J. Spalding)


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11. Assessing the Political Possibilities of Interactive Nostalgia


In the first issue of Interactions: Studies in Communication and Culture, Mark Andrejevic poses a powerful question: “What are we to make of the fact that the advent of ‘bottom-up’ media production amidst celebratory claims about the democratizing power of interactivity have coincided, arguably, with increasing economic and political inequality” (2009, 35)? His question echoes similar concerns from a number of critical voices about the nature of civic engagement and the possibility of progressive politics in the age of late capitalism and interactive social media. This anxiety over the relationship between interactive media and democratic engagement is felt all the more acutely in ongoing conversations about the role of emotion as instigator and mediator of interactivity and civic engagement. Anne Bartsch and Mary Beth Oliver offer a concise recounting of the manifold voices who fear that “emotional involvement with media content comes at the expense of cognitive depth and rational scrutiny” (2011, 12). This fear of emotion and affect as overwhelming and undermining democratic participation and progressive politics is clearly explained and justified in a series of works from a number of academic disciplines; particularly cultural and rhetorical media criticisms (Berlant 1997; Cloud 2003; Sturken 2007, 2011).

In recent years, these concerns about the political possibilities of emotion have developed with specific regard to nostalgia. In the aftermath of the U.S. financial crisis of 2008, several...

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