You Can Go Home, But Only to Visit: Nostalgia and the Personal Essay

Date of Graduation

Spring 1997


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

James Baumlin


This is a creative thesis which considers the place of nostalgia in the writing of personal essays. It includes a theoretical introduction, in which the problem of nostalgia, or longing for an idealized place and time, is viewed as a result of the need to find personal identity within a community and a geographic location in a contemporary world where people are increasingly mobile and isolated. This introduction examines the actual process of writing the body of the thesis, a collection of personal essays drawn from the childhood and youth of the author and centered both physically and ideologically in the state of Kansas. The conclusion of the thesis is that "going home," in the sense of reminiscing, is both possible and good, though it involves many risks. Contents: Middle -- Moving -- Looking forward -- Lincoln Elementary -- The tunnel to the end of the universe -- Ethnic -- Twisters -- L.A. underground comes to the Midwest -- Holidays, family reunions, and funerals.

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Jack Andrew Gilstrap