In Willa Cather's My Ántonia, nostalgia marks both the ambience of the novel and its critical focus. This thesis illuminates Cather's self-aware deployment of nostalgia as an artistic tool and nostalgia's role in Jim Burden's agenda-driven narrative. Jim adopts nostalgic narrative as propaganda to justify and glorify his past and present life, presenting his past as a simplified and romanticized origin myth. However, through the novel's frame narrative and the frequent, jarring vignettes of violence and discord, Cather undermines Jim's authority as a narrator and prompts reconsideration of Cather's endorsement of his nostalgic creation. By appreciating the complex deployment of nostalgia within the text we are prompted to reconsider assumptions about nostalgia, Cather, and Cather's interest in representations of the past.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Mazzeo, Maren, "Visions of the Past: Engagement and Avoidance Through Nostalgia in My Ántonia" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 5797.
Willa Cather, My Ántonia, nostalgia