3 Nostalgia: nostos: the return home. Nostalgia permeates American politics and mass culture. While pulpits and podiums resound with the message that we need to restore American values and the American family, movies and television return us to the happy days of yore. This book explores a particular aspect of the contemporary effort to redeem an idealized past. As feminists, we argue that nostalgic writers construct their visions of a golden past to authenticate woman’s traditional place and to challenge the outspoken feminist criticisms of it. Nostalgia is not just a sentiment but also a rhetorical practice. In the imaginative past of nostalgic writers, men were men, women were women, and reality was real. To retrieve “reality,” an authentic language, and “natural” sexual identity, these writers fight the false, seductive images of a decadent culture that they believe are promoted by feminist writing. The battleground is representation itself: feminism is envisioned as a source of degenerate writing that threatens male authority. At issue 4are basic questions about the authority of women’s writing and the power of male discourse to define reality.