Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Discussion: Nostalgia - A History of a Dangerous Emotion

15 May 2024, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Bookcover on the left and author portrait on the right

Join the UCL European Institute, the IAS and Grand Challenges, for an interdisciplinary discussion of nostalgia, drawing on a new book by Agnes Arnold-Forster.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students






Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground, G11
ground floor, South Wing
UCL, Gower St, London

Nostalgia is a social and political emotion, vulnerable to misuse, and one that reflects the anxieties of the age. It is one of the many ways we communicate a desire for the past, dissatisfaction with the present and our visions for the future.

In Nostalgia: A Biography, Agnes Arnold-Forster traces the history of this complex, slippery emotion and uses it as a lens through which to consider the changing pace of society, our collective feelings of regret, dislocation and belonging, the conditions of modern and contemporary work, and the politics of fear and anxiety.

Join the UCL European Institute, the IAS and UCL Grand Challenges, for an evening with the author, in conversation with UCL academics, to consider the origins of nostalgia as a psychopathological disorder through to how it is used and misused in contemporary life – in areas from politics to advertising – and how we best respond. 

Agnes Arnold-Forster, Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Edinburgh 

Sonu Shamdasani, Professor in Jung History, UCL SELCs and Co-Director of the UCL Health Humanities Centre 
Emily McTernan, Associate Professor in Political Theory, UCL Department of Political Science 
Joanna Elmy, writer, journalist and UCL European Institute, Writer in Residency 2024

Nicola Miller, Professor of Latin American History and Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies


About the Speaker

Agnes Arnold-Foster

Agnes Arnold-Foster is a writer; researcher; and historian. She has written, researched, and presented on everything from women's health in today's Britain to the history of cancer; from the 1918 flu pandemic to the well-being of surgeons in twenty-first-century America. She is an expert in the history of Europe, the USA, and Canada, and her research spans the eighteenth century to the present day. She explores societies, cultures, medicine, science, technology, emotions, and the world of work. 

More about Agnes Arnold-Foster