/ National Melancholy


National Memory is a book written by Elizabeth Riggan, MA Critical Writing in Art & Design at the Royal College of Art.

This book has been part of the 2014 final show at the Royal College of Art.

At a time in history when America was its most powerful, affluent, and influential, the post-war travel publication, Holiday, was created. “Holiday is dedicated to the pursuit of happiness,” its first editorial states, and like no other magazine before or after, its creators enlisted the nation’s finest writers to illustrate an image of both the exotic and the domestic as destinations that were glamorous and newly accessible, ready and waiting for the American public’s discovery. My major project explores a selection of essays originally published in Holiday by popular American writers on locales within the United States, some of which celebrate and others that highlight the anxieties surrounding the success of a nation and ‘the American Dream.’ Introductory essays contextualize the work of writers including historian Bruce Catton on Michigan, followed by Jack Kerouac on the Seattle area, Truman Capote on life in Brooklyn Heights, Ray Bradbury on the wonders of Disneyland, and Joan Didion on the Sacramento Valley. My project aspires to survey the intricacies of American cultural life during the 1950s and 1960s through the development of travel writing within the pages of Holiday magazine.