Cultural history combines the approaches of
anthropology Anthropology is the Science, scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, and society, societies, in both the present and past, including Homo, past human species. Social anthropology studies patterns of ...
history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events occurring before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term that relate ...

to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural interpretations of historical experience. It examines the records and narrative descriptions of past matter, encompassing the continuum of events (occurring in succession and leading from the past to the present and even into the future) pertaining to a culture. Cultural history records and interprets past events involving human beings through the social,
cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in ...
, and political milieu of or relating to
the arts The arts refers to the theory, human application and physical expression of creativity Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something somehow new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scienti ...
and manners that a group favors.
Jacob Burckhardt Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt (25 May 1818 – 8 August 1897) was a Swiss historian of art and culture and an influential figure in the historiography of both fields. He is known as one of the major progenitors of cultural history. Sigfried ...
(1818–1897) helped found cultural history as a discipline. Cultural history studies and interprets the record of human societies by denoting the various distinctive ways of living built up by a group of people under consideration. Cultural history involves the aggregate of past cultural activity, such as
ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed in a sequestered place and according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community ...

, class in practices, and the interaction with locales.


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 American studies or American civilization is an interdisciplinary field of scholarship that examines American literature, history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the ...
. As originally conceived and practiced by 19th Century Swiss historian Jakob Burckhardt with regard to the
Italian Renaissance The Italian Renaissance ( it, Rinascimento ), a period in History of Italy, Italian history that covered the 15th and 16th centuries, developed a culture that spread across Europe and marked the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. Pro ...
, 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 Autumn of the Middle Ages, 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 Narrative, tale, Epic poetry, 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 (sociology), power, ideology, Social class, class, culture, cultural identity, attitude (psychology), attitude, Race (classification of human beings), 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 Printing, print to film and, now, to the Internet (culture of capitalism). Its modern approaches come from art history, Annales School, Annales, Marxist school, microhistory and new cultural history.What Became of Cultural Historicism in the French Reclamation of Strasbourg After World War One? French History and Civilization 5, 2014, 1-15 Common theoretical touchstone (metaphor), 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''.

Historiography and the French Revolution

The area where new-style cultural history is often pointed to as being almost a paradigm is the 'Historical revisionism, 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, Jürgen Habermas, 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, geography, sociology, social theory, literary theory, film theory, film/video studies, cultural anthropology, philosophy, and art history/art criticism, criticism to study culture, 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 (cultural theorist), Stuart Hall, who succeeded Hoggart as Director.

Cultural history in popular culture

The BBC has produced and broadcast a number of educational television programmes on different aspects of human cultural history: in 1969 ''Civilisation (TV series), Civilisation'', in 1973 ''The Ascent of Man'', in 1985 ''The Triumph of the West'' and in 2012 ''Andrew Marr's History of the World''.

See also

* Collective unconscious * Ethnohistory * History of mentalities * Human history


Further reading

* Arcangeli, Alessandro. (2011) ''Cultural History: A Concise Introduction'' (Routledge, 2011) * Peter Burke (historian), Burke, Peter. (2004). ''What is Cultural History?''. Cambridge: Polity Press. * Cook, James W., et al. ''The Cultural Turn in U. S. History: Past, Present, and Future'' (2009
14 topical essays by scholars * Ginzburg "challenges us all to retrieve a cultural and social world that more conventional history does not record." -Back Cover * Green, Anna. (2008). ''Cultural History''. Theory and History. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave MacMillan. * Hérubel, Jean-Pierre V.M. (2010, January). "Observations on an Emergent Specialization: Contemporary French Cultural History. Significance for Scholarship." ''Journal of Scholarly Publishing'' 41#2 pp. 216–240. * Kelly, Michael. "Le regard de l’étranger: What French cultural studies bring to French cultural history." ''French Cultural Studies'' (2014) 25#3-4 pp: 253-261. * Kırlı, Cengiz. "From Economic History to Cultural History in Ottoman Studies." ''International Journal of Middle East Studies'' (2014) 46#2 pp: 376-378. * McCaffery, Peter Gabriel, and Ben Marsden, eds. ''The Cultural History Reader'' (Routledge, 2014) * Melching, W., & Velema, W. (1994). ''Main trends in cultural history: ten essays''. Amsterdam: Rodopi. * Moore, Alison M
"Historicising Historical Theory's History of Cultural Historiography"
''Cosmos & History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy'', 12 (1), February 2016, 257-291. * Moore, Alison, What Became of Cultural Historicism in the French Reclamation of Strasbourg After World War One? ''French History and Civilization'' 5, 2014, 1-15 * Morris, I. (1999). ''Archaeology as Cultural History: Words and Things in Iron Age Greece''. Blackwell Publishing. * Munslow, Alun (1997). ''Deconstructing History''. Routledge. * Poirrier, Philippe (2004), Les Enjeux de l’histoire culturelle, Seuil. * Poster, M. (1997). ''Cultural history and postmodernity: disciplinary readings and challenges''. New York: Columbia University Press. * Ritter, H. (1986). ''Dictionary of concepts in history''. Reference sources for the social sciences and humanities, no. 3. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. * Salmi, H. (2011). "Cultural History, the Possible, and the Principle of Plenitude." ''History and Theory'' 50 (May 2011), 171-187. * Schlereth, T. J. (1990). ''Cultural history and material culture: everyday life, landscapes, museums. American material culture and folklife''. Ann Arbor, Mich: UMI Research Press. * Schwarz, Georg, ''Kulturexperimente im Altertum'', Berlin: SI Symposion, 2010. * Spang, Rebecca. (2008). "Paradigms and Paranoia: how modern is the French Revolution?" ''American Historical Review''

External links

International Society for Cultural History
{{Authority control Cultural history, Cultural studies, History Theories of history Fields of history