Professor investigates homesickness

Susan Matt, history professor and chair in Weber State University’s history department, recently published a new book about homesickness titled “Homesickness: An American History.”

Matt’s research shows that back in the 19th century, homesickness was a form of powerful emotion. Nowadays, it’s a sign of immaturity. She wrote that back in that time, army doctors would send Civil War soldiers home when they became homesick.

In the description of Matt’s novel, she writes that national mythology celebrates the restlessness of individualism of colonists, explorers, pioneers, immigrants and soldiers. These people apparently left home and never looked back.

To this day, students who attend colleges and universities, even as young as elementary students, often deal with this emotional issue.

Charissa Phillips is a freshman whose family lives in California. She said she prevents homesickness by staying social.

“I deal with stress by hanging out with friends and going to football games,” she said.

She also said staying in contact with family helps.

“I would usually call my family or Facebook them to see how they are doing or what they have been up to,” Phillips said. “It helps us keep a good connection.”

According to Matt’s studies, families and young adults to this day are found in counseling for dealing with transitions in their lives.

There are students found around WSU’s campus missing their homes, friends and family. For some, the transition from their childhood life to adulthood brings an effect upon them emotionally.

“I call my mommy and hang out with my friends. I try not to think about home,” said Sharalynn McLaren, another freshman at WSU. Students, mainly freshmen, have a more difficult time dealing with this transition when they move out of their homes and into new one.

The Library Journal and other historical authors gave great reviews to Matt’s book. Author Claude S. Fisher, writer of the novel Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character, said Matt’s novel “. . . describes the history of an emotion that was at times so deeply felt that it was considered a deadly disease. With this sweeping and yet detailed survey, Matt demonstrates that emotions have histories.”

The book is now available on For more details on Susan Matt’s book, students can visit the Oxford University Press website and search Homesickness: An American History.