Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences: Melancholy in art History / Mourning or Nostalgia?

Full text (.pdf)
Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences: 2012, Vol. 5, Issue 1
Yuzhakova, Elizaveta V.
Contact information
Yuzhakova, Elizaveta V. : Ural Federal University , 51 Lenin st., Ekaterinburg, 620083 Russia , e-mail:
methodology of art history; melancholy; nostalgia

The article reflects some aspects of a wider work dealing with notion of melancholy used in contemporary art history. Starting with the study of historiography of the engraving Melencolia I by Albrecht Dürer, the author came to know that the notion of melancholy itself became an often used trope in contemporary theory. Michael Ann Hollys controversial concept of art history as a melancholic discipline being the most vivid example of this application became the subject of this article. Her theory invokes several questions: what is the methodological basis of Hollys reasoning, are there any conceptual influences for her theory, and is it indeed melancholy and not anything else present is art historians work. In answering these questions the author of this article refers to philosophy of history, namely to the works of Frank Ankersmit and Peter Fritzsche who conceptualize the notion of nostalgia in their writings. This context allows presenting a hypothesis that the tendency of the neighboring discipline could influence Hollys meditations and inspire her to use the similar trope in her field. By analyzing the effectiveness of Hollys employment of Freudian definition of melancholy, and appealing to the notion of nostalgia as it is theorized in philosophy of history, the author comes to the conclusion that Hollys disciplinary melancholy is actually of nostalgic origin.

Paper at repository of SibFU

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).