Television audiences and transnational nostalgia: Mad Men in Israel

Flora Tsapovsky, Paul Frosh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Nostalgia is a transnational condition. It not only describes temporal displacement from a vanished past but also spatial dislocation from a lost dwelling place: home. What happens, then, when the spatio-temporal dimensions of nostalgia are realigned by media globalization? Can the transnational consumption of media texts create memory-structures that allow viewers to feel ‘at home’ in a past that is not ‘theirs’? What might such a reconstitution of nostalgia tell us about practices of interpretation, recollection, and identification among media audiences? Addressing these questions, this article investigates the responses of Israeli television viewers to a purportedly nostalgic US drama series, Mad Men. In the process, it reemphasizes nostalgia’s spatial axis, while reframing nostalgia as a construct of viewer engagement rather than as a feature of media texts. Ultimately, it proposes that contemporary transnational nostalgia possesses a double structure: it is selective, acting as an emotional and cognitive resource consciously used by audiences to examine their present personal and socio-political realities; that very use, however, depends on a ‘banal cosmopolitanism’ in which the mediated pasts of distant societies are seamlessly experienced as a part of viewers’ proximate lifeworlds.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)784-799
Number of pages16
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Volume37
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 11 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Keywords

  • Israel
  • audiences
  • cosmopolitanism
  • globalization
  • memory
  • nostalgia
  • television

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