Transatlantic Loneliness: A Social, Political, and Cultural Inquiry

AHA Session 129
Friday, January 4, 2019: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Spire Parlor (Palmer House Hilton, Sixth Floor)
Barbara H. Rosenwein, Loyola University Chicago
The Lonely Cloud
Luke O. Fernandez, Weber State University; Susan J. Matt, Weber State University
Barbara H. Rosenwein, Loyola University Chicago

Session Abstract

Celebrated as a virtuous aspect of solitude and pathologized as a disease, loneliness has long represented a preoccupation for people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed, if various “loyalties” assumed some degree of human interaction and engagement, the lack of such connections threatened the foundations of trust, sociability, and community. This session explores the history of loneliness as a social, cultural, and political concern. Luke Fernandez and Susan Matt trace the evolution of loneliness in the United States, taking into account how technologies--from the telegraph to Twitter--have affected the experience and the perception of being alone. Ilaria Scaglia explores the political dimensions of loneliness in the 1920s and 1930s, examining how internationalists sought to avoid it in the Alps, arguably one of the most emotionalized spaces in this period. Fay Bound Alberti explores loneliness as a linguistic concept and an embodied experience in Britain between the 17th and the 21st centuries. Barbara H. Rosenwein chairs and provides commentary on the papers.
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