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Even today, in a global society that prizes movement and that condemns homesickness as a childish emotion, colleges counsel young adults and their families on how to manage the transition away from home, suburbanites pine for their old neighborhoods, and companies take seriously the emotional toll borne by relocated executives and road warriors. In the age of helicopter parents and boomerang kids, and the new social networks that sustain connections across the miles, Americans continue to assert the significance of home ties.

By highlighting how Americans reacted to moving farther and farther from their roots, Homesickness: An American History revises long-held assumptions about home, mobility, and our national identity. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages.

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On Homesickness

Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 24, D. Dutcher rated it liked it Shelves: nonfiction. This is an exhaustive history about the american concepts of homesickness and nostalgia as suffered across the entire history of the nation. It's almost too exhaustive for its own good though, and can be a long read. The terms have changed a little over time. Homesickness is a longing for your home, and that remains somewhat the same.

No Place Like Home—Interview with Historian Susan J. Matt on Homesickness in American History

But nostalgia used to mean an acute form of homesickness than manifested with physical effect. People could waste away and die from nostalgia, and were often hospit This is an exhaustive history about the american concepts of homesickness and nostalgia as suffered across the entire history of the nation. People could waste away and die from nostalgia, and were often hospitalized or if possible, sent back home. As travel became easier and more affordable, nostalgia changed to timesickness. Where homesick people want to go back home, timesick people want to go back in time as well.

People seem to be dealing with it better, but even now the transient and rootless nature of the average American or immigrant still inflicts them with homesickness. She details a lot of tools people used to combat it, like the YMCAs which often had newspapers from other states so young men away from their homes could catch up on news the idea of cheerfulness, trying to import women in who often also suffered from homesickness and the creation of immigrant communities which tried to mimic the old world they left as much as possible.

Things like the modern PX, USO tours, and care packages were used to help soldiers deal with it, and before WW1 the desertion rate due to homesickness was incredibly high. It's very interesting and makes you think.

Transcript for Susan J. Matt on "Homesickness: An American History"

One of the troubling things for modern man is that to counteract the trend to being homesick when uprooted, the military and corporations try to create a loyalty to the organization and strip people of their civilian or regional ties. You look at a thing like summer camp in a completely different light; it is designed to help children break the strong sense of place that causes homesickness and help them become the kind of individualistic, transient person the modern economy asks for.

I don't think she covered in detail "going away to college," but a lot of modern rites of passage seem designed to make us overcome strong attachment to our homes we were raised in and in many ways separate us from that sort of link to our past. It's a rich book to mull over and think on how human beings connect to places and suffer often severe trauma when we either are forced to move or willingly choose to. However the book is too long for its own good. It covers a tremendous timeframe and documents it with many letters and pictures, as well as news events.

It's not a particularly dense read at all, but it just feels repetitive with all the testimony, and is best read in small chunks. It also feels a bit unbalanced, as she documents the pre-civil war era very heavily and the current day one a little sparsely. This may just be me though, as I admit to some fatigue reading through the text. I would have liked to see more on the Organization Man and homesickness, and more on the modern aspect of how technology combats it.

No mention of Facebook as I remember is a bit of a crime. It's still a good book, though. It also helps you to imagine how different people were back then. It's hard to look at the song "Home Sweet Home" unironically for a modern person, but back during the Civil War it caused desertion and hospitalization, and was forbidden to be played in the Union camp. People also wasted away because they were separated from home by distances most of us could drive in a day. It was a truly different world back then. Nov 15, Kendra rated it really liked it.


  • The Little-Known Medical History of Homesickness.
  • The School;
  • Accessibility links.

I love what Ms. Matt has to say about homesickness, and I don't think that's true for entirely selfish reasons. I've always suffered from homesickness. I was the preschooler crying so hard that my naptime pillow was soaked, the camper who learned to fake happiness during the day while burying myself in my sleeping bag at night so no one heard me cry, and the college student who tried so hard to be cool. It was such a relief to find that homesickness hasn't always been a shameful secret!


  • How do you cure homesickness?.
  • Homesickness An American History.
  • Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid?
  • Conversations about the history of feeling from www.qmul.ac.uk/emotions.

Granted, I've read enough history to be familiar with the fact that nostalgia was considered to be an actual disease, one that could cause people to languish and die. But I'd never applied that knowledge to my own life! And boy, was the section on "helecopter parents" enlightening!

As the parent of two children who love to be at home and who still enjoy hanging out with their father and me even though adolescence has entered stage left, I am so pleased to hear that teenagers don't really think it's weird to stay in touch with their parents nowadays. While my husband and I believe quite strongly that it's important for children to learn to handle most of their own problems with teachers and friends -- and I think I can extrapolate that to encompass professors, managers, and significant others -- it's nice to know that they won't suffer too much if and I do realize that most of this is up to them!

I do still refuse to be a helecopter parent, but it's encouraging to see that the family is pushing back on corporate culture! And speaking of corporate culture, if I weren't already highly suspicious of the effects of that monolithic entity on the individual, I think Ms.

Being Homesick in America - How do I deal with it? - That Indian Guy

Matt's book would have cause me to start a fire in the old brainpan. Feb 23, Avocados rated it liked it. I enjoyed the main argument of this book but I think it would have made its point in essay length. Some of the supporting arguments were stretched thin because of a need to lengthen the content. Apr 11, Elizabeth Lund added it. Not interested enough to finish. Douglas rated it did not like it Mar 23, Elizabeth Fredericks rated it really liked it Oct 20, Shiraz rated it really liked it Oct 24, Nicolas Hoffmann rated it it was amazing Mar 08, Can you please suggest some books that will help me feel less homesick and more at home?

We tend to think of homesickness as a juvenile malaise, adorable in the child on her first overnight school trip and endearing, even, in the teen calling home from university with a wobble in his voice. During the 19th Century, homesickness among new immigrants to America, for instance, was considered suggestive of a virtuous or sensitive nature. Its effect is instantaneous and quite overwhelming. These days, homesickness is seen as being less about missing a physical place and more about the stress caused by a break in routine. Still, it can be a serious matter — especially when it stops you from reading.

Studies have shown that one good way of curing such feelings is to participate in the things you loved doing before you moved. Hopefully, our literary prescription will return you to your former bookish ways.