Tsapovsky, Flora and Paul Frosh, “Television Audiences and Transnational Nostalgia: Mad Men in Israel.” Media, Culture & Society 37.5 (2015): 784-99.
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.