Learn about how homesickness and emotion used to be in the American way of life; Dixie Forum

Multiple photos of a woman showing the range of emotions. Undated | Photo by Gearstd/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University’s Dixie Forum discussion Tuesday will center on the title, “Homesickness, History, and American Emotional Life.”

Dr. Susan J. Matt will be the presenter. She will speak on the history of homesickness to offer a new way of understanding past societies and their priorities and values. Her discussion will also highlight how 19th century Americans once died of homesickness, or nostalgia as they termed it, and considered it a deadly disease. Today, however, the feeling is regarded as an emotion of childhood, one that should be conquered at summer camp or college.

Probing this emotion’s history can reveal much about how Americans learned to leave home and mastered the habits of rugged individualism, essential to life in a capitalist economy.

Dixie Forum is open to the public at no charge. It begins at noon in the Dunford Auditorium of the Browning Resource Center on Dixie State’s campus.

Susan J. Matt

As a researcher and professor, Matt focuses on social and cultural history, history of emotions, gilded age, progressive era and consumerism. She has written the books “Keeping Up with the Joneses: Envy in American Society, 1890-1930” and “Homesickness: An American History.” Her next book, co-authored with Luke Fernandez, is titled “Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: American Feelings About Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter,” and is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. Additionally, her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Journal of American History.

Matt earned her bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Chicago, where she was student body president. She went on to receive her master’s and doctoral degrees from Cornell University.

Dixie Forum

Dixie Forum is a weekly lecture series designed to introduce the St. George and Dixie State communities to diverse ideas and personalities while widening their worldviews via a 50-minute presentation. For its next installment March 6, Dixie Forum will host Bruce Bugbee and Lance Seefeld from Utah State University as they lecture on NASA, technology and living on Mars.

For more information about the series see the Dixie Forum webpage or contact Dixie Forum coordinator John Burns at telephone 435-879-4712  or email burns@dixie.edu.

Event details

  • What: Dixie Forum lecture by Susan J. Matt: “Homesickness, History, and American Emotional Life.”
  • When: Tuesday, Feb. 27, at noon.
  • Where: Dunford Auditorium, located inside the Browning Resource Center on the Dixie State University campus.
  • Details: Free and open to the public.

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