Cultural history  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from Cultural historian)
Jump to: navigation, search
The Great Sphinx by Maxime Du Camp, 1849, taken when he traveled in Egypt with Gustave Flaubert.
Enlarge
The Great Sphinx by Maxime Du Camp, 1849, taken when he traveled in Egypt with Gustave Flaubert.

"Reality [of courtly love ] at all times has been worse and more brutal than the refined aestheticism of courtesy would have it be, but also more chaste than it is represented to be by the vulgar genre which is wrongly regarded as realism."--The Autumn of the Middle Ages (1919) by Johan Huizinga


"In short, I suggest that at least part of the thick description of what le Penseur is trying to do in saying things to himself is that he is trying, by success/failure tests, to find out whether or not the things that he is saying would or would not be utilisable as leads or pointers."--"What is 'Le Penseur' Doing?", 1968, Gilbert Ryle


Some historians: Mikhail Bakhtin, Peter Berger, Patrick Brantlinger, John Carey, Alain Corbin, Robert Darnton, Michel Foucault, Peter Gay, Steven Marcus, Camille Paglia, Colin Wilson

This page Cultural history is part of the Ancient Rome series.  Illustration: Antichita Romanae (1748) by Piranesi
Enlarge
This page Cultural history is part of the Ancient Rome series.
Illustration: Antichita Romanae (1748) by Piranesi

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Enlarge
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Cultural history, at least in its common definition since the 1970s, often combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural interpretations of historical experience. It overlaps in its approaches with the French movements of histoire des mentalités (Philippe Poirrier, 2004) and the so-called new history, and in the U.S. it is closely associated with the field of American studies.

As originally conceived and practiced by 19th Century Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt with regard to the Italian Renaissance, cultural history was oriented to the study of a particular historial period in its entirety, with regard not only for its painting, sculpture and architecture, but for the economic basis underpinning society, and the social institutions of its daily life as well.

Most often the focus is on phenomena shared by non-elite groups in a society, such as: carnival, festival, and public rituals; performance traditions of tale, epic, and other verbal forms; cultural evolutions in human relations (ideas, sciences, arts, techniques); and cultural expressions of social movements such as nationalism. Also examines main historical concepts as power, ideology, class, culture, cultural identity, attitude, race, perception and new historical methods as narration of body. Many studies consider adaptations of traditional culture to mass media (tv, radio, newspapers, magazines, posters, etc.), from print to film and, now, to the Internet (culture of capitalism). Its modern approaches come from art history, annales, marxist school, microhistory and new cultural history.

Common theoretical touchstones for recent cultural history have included: Jürgen Habermas's formulation of the public sphere in The Structural Transformation of the Bourgeois Public Sphere; Clifford Geertz's notion of 'thick description' (expounded in, for example, The Interpretation of Cultures); and the idea of memory as a cultural-historical category, as discussed in Paul Connerton's How Societies Remember.

Contents

Description

Many current cultural historians claim it to be a new approach, but cultural history was referred to by nineteenth-century historians such as the Swiss scholar of Renaissance history Jacob Burckhardt.

Cultural history overlaps in its approaches with the French movements of histoire des mentalités (Philippe Poirrier, 2004) and the so-called new history, and in the U.S. it is closely associated with the field of American studies. As originally conceived and practiced by 19th Century Swiss historian Jakob Burckhardt with regard to the Italian Renaissance, cultural history was oriented to the study of a particular historical period in its entirety, with regard not only for its painting, sculpture and architecture, but for the economic basis underpinning society, and the social institutions of its daily life as well. Echoes of Burkhardt's approach in the 20th century can be seen in Johan Huizinga's The Waning of the Middle Ages (1919).

Most often the focus is on phenomena shared by non-elite groups in a society, such as: carnival, festival, and public rituals; performance traditions of tale, epic, and other verbal forms; cultural evolutions in human relations (ideas, sciences, arts, techniques); and cultural expressions of social movements such as nationalism. Also examines main historical concepts as power, ideology, class, culture, cultural identity, attitude, race, perception and new historical methods as narration of body. Many studies consider adaptations of traditional culture to mass media (television, radio, newspapers, magazines, posters, etc.), from print to film and, now, to the Internet (culture of capitalism). Its modern approaches come from art history, Annales, Marxist school, microhistory and new cultural history.

Common theoretical touchstones for recent cultural history have included: Jürgen Habermas's formulation of the public sphere in The Structural Transformation of the Bourgeois Public Sphere; Clifford Geertz's notion of 'thick description' (expounded in, for example, The Interpretation of Cultures); and the idea of memory as a cultural-historical category, as discussed in Paul Connerton's How Societies Remember.

A vague delineation

Historiography and the French Revolution

Historiography of the French Revolution and the new cultural history, Robert Darnton and the historiography of the Enlightenment

The area where new-style cultural history is often pointed to as being almost a paradigm is the 'revisionist' history of the French Revolution, dated somewhere since François Furet's massively influential 1978 essay Interpreting the French Revolution. The 'revisionist interpretation' is often characterised as replacing the allegedly dominant, allegedly Marxist, 'social interpretation' which locates the causes of the Revolution in class dynamics. The revisionist approach has tended to put more emphasis on 'political culture'. Reading ideas of political culture through Habermas' conception of the public sphere, historians of the Revolution in the past few decades have looked at the role and position of cultural themes such as gender, ritual, and ideology in the context of pre-revolutionary French political culture.

Historians who might be grouped under this umbrella are Roger Chartier, Robert Darnton, Patrice Higonnet, Lynn Hunt, Keith Baker, Joan Landes, Mona Ozouf and Sarah Maza. Of course, these scholars all pursue fairly diverse interests, and perhaps too much emphasis has been placed on the paradigmatic nature of the new history of the French Revolution. Colin Jones, for example, is no stranger to cultural history, Habermas, or Marxism, and has persistently argued that the Marxist interpretation is not dead, but can be revivified; after all, Habermas' logic was heavily indebted to a Marxist understanding. Meanwhile, Rebecca Spang has also recently argued that for all its emphasis on difference and newness, the 'revisionist' approach retains the idea of the French Revolution as a watershed in the history of (so-called) modernity, and that the problematic notion of 'modernity' has itself attracted scant attention.

Cultural studies

Cultural studies is an academic discipline popular among a diverse group of scholars. It combines political economy, communication, sociology, social theory, literary theory, media theory, film/video studies, cultural anthropology, philosophy, museum studies and art history/criticism to study cultural phenomena in various societies. Cultural studies researchers often concentrate on how a particular phenomenon relates to matters of ideology, nationality, ethnicity, social class, and/or gender. The term was coined by Richard Hoggart in 1964 when he founded the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. It has since become strongly associated with Stuart Hall, who succeeded Hoggart as Director.

Examples of cultural histories

See also

culture, public sphere, social history

References




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cultural history" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools