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Nostalgia: Painful and Joyful Memory of “The Good Ole’ Days”

27th Carolina Conference for Romance Studies 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

March 24th and 25th, 2023 

Submission deadline: February 12, 2023 


Originally derived from the Greek “nostos” (returning home) and “algos” (pain), nostalgia was coined in 1688 by Johannes Hofer as a translation to the German term “heimweh” (homesickness) in order to describe an often-fatal disease that struck soldiers far from home. Nostalgia continued to be used as a medical term for centuries before evolving into its contemporary significance in the early twentieth century: “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition” (Merriam-Webster). As the past years of cultural, social, and political turmoil across the globe have rocked the stability of many peoples, interest in nostalgia and its resonances has increased and become a prominent point of discussion, pervading both the academic and non-academic worlds. From recalling a simpler life before the advances of technology, to remembering the collective national stability before war or other events, to recounting a personal moment in which one felt happy, it has become a quotidian sentiment.

Nostalgia is both a reaction to the state of contemporary society and a continuation of the human condition. Its existence in Western-defining literature throughout the centuries from The Odyssey to the Commedia to Don Quixote and more establish nostalgia as an intrinsic personal (and collective) experience that helps to define humanity. The collective growing interest in this sentiment generates a multitude of questions: What is home to whom, when, and where? How does the individual and the collective experience nostalgia internally and externally? What does nostalgia mean to a writer, director, or artist, and how do they portray this? Are they nostalgic for a place that no longer exists or for a moment in time that has already passed? What are common themes of nostalgia that cross state and cultural borders? How have industrial transformations, climate change, and other contemporary advances forever removed authentic places of memory? What is the social function and political power of nostalgia, and how does that appear in wider society? 

The 27th annual Carolina Conference for Romance Studies invites graduate students, undergraduate students, professors, scholars, and artists to consider and to engage with these and other questions of nostalgia in all forms through presentations and discussions. Topics of interest and approaches may include, but are not limited to, the following fields and themes:

  • Anthropocene
  • Architecture
  • Biopolitics
  • Colonial, Decolonial, and Postcolonial Studies
  • Disability Studies
  • Ecocriticism
  • Environmental Humanities
  • Feminist Studies
  • Gender and Women’s Studies
  • Geocriticism
  • Global Studies
  • Historical Memory
  • Intersectionality
  • Medical Humanities
  • Linguistic Studies
  • Migration and Border Studies
  • Pedagogical Studies
  • Performance Studies
  • Posthumanism
  • Queer Studies
  • Sexuality
  • Urban Studies
  • Utopias/Dystopias
  • Violence and Trauma
  • Visual and Media Studies


Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words via the CCRS form below by February 12th, 2023. We welcome papers submitted in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish; however, in certain cases, submissions in English will be preferred in order to facilitate the creation of panels based on common subject areas rather than language concentration. Panel proposals and roundtables that are language- and/or topic-specific are also welcomed, and each participant should individually complete a submission form. Please direct any questions to

Submissions should be a single-page Word document in the following format:

  • Name:
  • Email Address:
  • Affiliation:
  • Classification: (Professor, Ph.D. Student, M.A. Student, Undergraduate Student, Post-doc, independent researcher, etc.)
  • Presentation Title:
  • Abstract (300 words, single-spaced):
  • Relevant Time Period(s) and Country(-ies):
  • Keywords (up to six):

**The conference is currently scheduled to be hosted in person at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on March 24 and 25 and will abide by any university, local, and national pandemic restrictions or safety regulations that have been set in place.


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