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Varieties of Cultural History Paperback – 21 Aug 1997

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Paperback, 21 Aug 1997
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From the Back Cover

The aim of this book is both to illustrate and to discuss some of the main varieties of cultural history which have emerged since the questioning of what might be called its "classic" form, exemplified in the work of Jacob Burckhardt and Johan Huizinga. Among the themes of individual chapters are the history of popular culture, the history of Carnival, the history of mentalities, the history of gestures, the history of jokes, and even the history of dreams.

The emphasis of both the introduction and the case–studies which follow is on the variety of forms taken by cultural history today. The classic model has not been replaced by any new orthodoxy, despite the importance of approaches inspired by social and cultural anthropology. Variety is to be found in the cultures studied as well as among their historians. The case–studies included in the volume come not only from Europe (and in particular from Italy) but also from the New World, especially Brazil. Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of cultural encounters, cultural conflicts, and their consequences, whether these consequences should be described in terms of mixing, syncretism or synthesis.

Written by one of the leading cultural historians in Europe today, this book will be of particular interest to students of early modern Europe, of the encounters between European culture and the New World, and to students and scholars interested in problems of historiography.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Peter Burke is Professor of Cultural History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent synopsis of cultural history 2 Dec. 2000
By J. Henderson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Peter Burke is professor of Cultural History at the University of Cambridge and is certainly one of the most prominent figures in cultural history today. This volume is a selection of his essays, most of them previously published, which will certainly bring students up to date on the current practice of cultural history. There are essays on the origins of cultural history, the cultural history of dreams, chivalry in the New World, as well as an excellent discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the history of mentalities. In another essay Burke takes the cultural concept of carnival (one he previously dealt with in his excellent "Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe") and explores it in the context of Brazilian and African societies. Although five of the twelve essays focus on the author's area of specialization --Renaissance and Early Modern Italy-- there is much broader knowledge to be gained from the volume. Burke succinctly narrates the evolution of this type of history, demonstrating the relationship between historians such as Bloch, Burckhardt and Huizinga to the social anthropologists' search for collective representations (Durkheim and Lucien Lévy-Bruhl), and ending with the myriad ways in which the discipline is practiced today. Although the book is great, I do think it would have benefited from a more thorough discussion of the "new" cultural historians such as Lynn Hunt et al.
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