SINTA Studies in the Arts

Online lecture and workshop

Nostalgia, Revival and the Modern Quest for a Lost Golden Age

Mittwoch, 29.03.2023 - Freitag, 31.03.2023

Veranstaltende: SINTA | Studies in the Arts
Redner, Rednerin: Prof. John Haines | University of Toronto
Datum: 29.03.2023 - 31.03.2023
Uhrzeit: 18:15 Uhr
Ort: online
via Zoom
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Anmeldung: Hier Anmelden
Merkmale: Öffentlich
Timetable and target group
Course Target group
Date Time
Public evening lecture
Interested public
29 March 2023
18:15–20:00 CEST
Workshop 1: Revival as an expression of nostalgia Master and PhD students
30 March 2023
14:15–18:00 CEST
Workshop 2: Nostalgia and the making of empire Master and PhD students 31 March 2023
14:15–18:00 CEST

Evening Lecture

The modern quest for a lost Golden Age originates in the rise of European nation-states as world-class empires during the Renaissance period. I will look at three manifestations of this quest in three different media: the printed texts and images of early modern travel narratives, the audiovisual media of Third Reich propaganda, and the digital clips of “Bardcore” songs during the recent pandemic. As we will see, in all three, the twin motives of nostalgia and revival have played an indispensable role.

Workshop 1: Revival as an expression of nostalgia

We are all surrounded by numerous objects and ideas from the past. Examples include reconstructed musical instruments from the Middle Ages, new motor vehicles based on older designs such as the new Fiat 500, or any number of books and films that restage events from the near and distant past. Despite the ubiquity of objects and entertainment steeped in the past, we seldom think of the overarching phenomenon of revival that lies behind them. In his essay "Antiquarian Nostalgia and the Institutionalization of Early Music" in the Oxford Handbook of Music Revival (2014), John Haines shows that the idea of reviving things ancient and medieval is not just a phenomenon of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but one that has been around since the sixteenth century. One of the most important motivators Haines identifies for modern revivals of the past is nostalgia; specifically in the case of Europe's revival of its medieval past, a longing for a lost European Golden Age of indeterminate time and place.

This workshop will examine the role of the revival phenomenon in various projects presented by students. It will seek to question the motivation behind each manifestation of revival. The question to answer will be: How does nostalgia play out in different research projects of historical reconstruction or revival? The format of the workshop will be individual dissertation project presentations (20-25 mns.), followed by group discussions.

Workshop 2: Nostalgia and the making of empire

The revival of a product or myth, which can evoke nostalgia on an imperialistic scale, requires a careful inquiry into the power relations behind it. This workshop examines the conditions and characteristics of objects, ideas or myths used in the service of imperial nostalgia. In the history of empires, revival and nostalgia have served as multitemporal motivators. An imperial artefact or myth is something of a timeless symbol of the past, constantly redefined over the epochs up to the present. Nostalgia in this context is both anchored in time and outside of time. It represents an idealization of the past on the one hand, and expresses the contemporary longing for a home that no longer exists or has never existed on the other.

In this workshop, students will present work related to how different artefacts or myths’ nostalgic capacities are used in the service of empire. The main questions will be: What is empire and what role does nostalgia play in maintaining it? The format of the workshop will be individual project presentations (20-25 mns.), followed by group discussions.

Lecture and workshops: Prof. John Haines

John Haines is professor of music and medieval studies at the University of Toronto. In addition to dozens of essays, he has published a number of books on topics ranging from shorthand writing to popular music. His two most recent books are Chants du diable, chants du peuple: Voyage en musique au Moyen Âge (Turnhout: Brepols, 2018) and Film Music: An Introduction in 11 Takes (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022).

John Haines

1.5 ECTS

To get the 1.5 ECTS you have to attend the lecture and both workshops.


Please send an e-mail to to get the Zoom links.