Homesickness: Of Trauma and the Longing for Place in a Changing Environment
In the Anthropocene, as climate change renders environments less stable, the human desire for place underscores the weakness of the individual in the face of the world. In this book, Ryan Hediger introduces a distinctive notion of homesickness, one in which the longing for place demonstrates not only human vulnerability but also intersubjectivity beyond the human. Arguing that this feeling is unavoidable and characteristically posthumanist, Hediger studies the complex mix of attitudes toward home, the homely, and the familiar in an age of resurgent cosmopolitanism, especially eco-cosmopolitanism.
Homesickness closely examines U.S. literature mostly after 1945, including prominent writers such as Annie Proulx, Marilynne Robinson, and Ernest Hemingway, in light of the challenges and themes of the Anthropocene. Hediger argues that our desire for home is shorthand for a set of important hopes worth defending—serious and genuine relationships to places and their biotic regimes and landforms; membership in vital cultures, human and nonhuman; resistance to capital-infused forms of globalization that flatten differences and turn life and place into mere resources. Our homesickness, according to Hediger, is inevitable because the self is necessarily constructed with reference to the material past. Therefore, homesickness is not something to dismiss as nostalgic or reactionary but is rather a structure of feeling to come to terms with and even to cultivate.
Recasting an expansive range of fields through the lens of homesickness—from ecocriticism to animal studies and disability studies, (eco)philosophy to posthumanist theory—Homesickness speaks not only to the desire for a physical structure or place but also to a wide range of longings and dislocations, including those related to subjectivity, memory, bodies, literary form, and language.