College of Communication Master of Arts Theses

Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Michael DeAngelis

Second Advisor

Dan Bashara


Over the course of the 2010s, one identifiable trend in Hollywood cinema was the significant presence of nostalgia films. These films stage idealized recollections of the past, appealing to affective longing for its perceived comforts and stability. This thesis utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to present a historical narrative of recent Hollywood cinema and its intersection with broader American culture and society. I argue that the most recent cinematic “nostalgia wave” is attributable to the broad, epochal conditions of modernity and late modernity, specific historical events and trends of the 2010s, and Hollywood-specific technological and industrial discontinuities. In an attempt to weather this multitude of discontinuities, the contemporary American film industry can be seen to have internalized the logic of cultural nostalgia in a plea for continuity. This nostalgic outlook is also positioned alongside simultaneous attempts to contend with social progress in recent Hollywood cinema. Nostalgia is thus theorized as a potentially productive way of negotiating past and future, providing a narrative and industrial model for processing social change during a period of widespread uncertainty.

Included in

Communication Commons