Campus News

Communication studies adjunct faculty member talks nostalgia

Grafton Tanner, an adjunct faculty member in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ communication studies department, was recently quoted in a Forbes article about nostalgia in light of a new app, Dispo. The app emulates a disposable camera.

Tanner, an authority on nostalgia and author of the upcoming book The Hours Have Lost Their Clock: The Politics of Nostalgia, views the rise of Dispo as a parallel to the recent circulation of videos that document the final days of high school from the ’80s and ’90s.

“One of the things about nostalgia that’s not talked about much, is that you can be nostalgic for something you didn’t live through,” he said. “Nostalgia can show up by seeing a representation of something that is so different than the reality that you live in. There’s something about having a window into an alternative reality.”

Dispo aims to provide joy and socialization during a time in which “fun” isn’t as obtainable—during a pandemic. Tanner points out that there’s “a pain associated with nostalgia.”

The article suggests that if Dispo creators want to usher pro-social experiences, they must further detach the app from the effective tactics which plagued Dispo’s predecessors.

A major tech narrative that experts say will play out over the next decade is “humane tech.” Still, Tanner has his doubts.

“There’s no indication that this narrative is going to solve the attention economy,” he said.

The article continued to detail “humane technology” and “care-washing,” two aspects of tech narratives that can influence apps and their success.