Faculty Research & Creative Activity

White Male Nostalgia in Contemporary North American Literature

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2018


White Male Nostalgia in Contemporary North American Literature charts the late twentieth-century development of reactionary emotions commonly felt by resentful, yet often goodhearted white men. Examining an eclectic array of literary case studies in light of recent work in critical whiteness and masculinity studies, history, geography, philosophy and theology, Tim Engles delineates five preliminary forms of white male nostalgia—as dramatized in novels by Sloan Wilson, Richard Wright, Carol Shields, Don DeLillo, Louis Begley and Margaret Atwood—demonstrating how literary fiction can help us understand the inner workings of deluded dominance. These authors write from identities outside the defensive domain of normalized white masculinity, demonstrating via extended interior dramas that although nostalgia is primarily thought of as an emotion felt by individuals, it also works to shore up entrenched collective power.Reviews:"Arresting from its most sweeping claims to its wonderfully telling details, this closely argued study reminds us of how supple and hard-hitting critical studies of whiteness can be at their very best. Steeped in historical knowledge, Engles’ brilliant readings of celebrated and neglected works diagnose how white middle class masculinity has long managed to claim outsider status and how thoroughly creative writers have called into question such claims.” (David Roediger, Foundation Professor of American Studies, University of Kansas, USA)“This book is well-written, compellingly argued, and will contribute a great deal to work in American cultural studies of gender and race, as well as in contemporary fiction more broadly.” (Sally Robinson, Associate Professor of English, Texas A&M University, USA, and author of Marked Men: White Masculinity in Crisis, 2000)Further information: https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9783319904597

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