Thomas Dodman | What Nostalgia Was: The History of a Deadly Emotion

People once died of nostalgia. While we all recognize nostalgia when we see it, and know that it “ain’t what it used to be,” few of us are familiar with what it once was. This talk uncovers the forgotten medical history of nostalgia from the term’s invention in Switzerland in 1688 to the disease’s demise in colonial north Africa in the late nineteenth century. By tracing the scientific and social conditions of possibility of this deadly form of nostalgia, Thomas Dodman seeks to grasp it as a specifically modern psychological condition and thus show the historicity of our emotions.


Thomas Dodman is the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Assistant Professor of French at Columbia University. He is a historian of modern France and its empire. Thomas Dodman’s research grapples with forms and experiences of social change in the modern era.

This event is free and open to the public.

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.











When: Wed., Feb. 19, 2020 at 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Where: NYU (Other)
70 Washington Sq. S.
212-998-1212
Price: Free
Buy tickets/get more info now
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People once died of nostalgia. While we all recognize nostalgia when we see it, and know that it “ain’t what it used to be,” few of us are familiar with what it once was. This talk uncovers the forgotten medical history of nostalgia from the term’s invention in Switzerland in 1688 to the disease’s demise in colonial north Africa in the late nineteenth century. By tracing the scientific and social conditions of possibility of this deadly form of nostalgia, Thomas Dodman seeks to grasp it as a specifically modern psychological condition and thus show the historicity of our emotions.


Thomas Dodman is the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Assistant Professor of French at Columbia University. He is a historian of modern France and its empire. Thomas Dodman’s research grapples with forms and experiences of social change in the modern era.

This event is free and open to the public.

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Buy tickets/get more info now