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What is Cultural History?, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4409-7
168 pages
November 2008, Polity
What is Cultural History?, 2nd Edition (0745644090) cover image
What is Cultural History? has established itself as an essential guide to what cultural historians do and how they do it. Now fully updated in its second edition, leading historian Peter Burke offers afresh his accessible guide to the past, present and future of cultural history, as it has been practised not only in the English-speaking world, but also in Continental Europe, Asia, South America and elsewhere.

Burke begins by providing a discussion of the ‘classic’ phase of cultural history, associated with Jacob Burckhardt and Johan Huizinga, and of the Marxist reaction, from Frederick Antal to Edward Thompson. He then charts the rise of cultural history in more recent times, concentrating on the work of the last generation, often described as the ‘New Cultural History'. He places cultural history in its own cultural context, noting links between new approaches to historical thought and writing and the rise of feminism, postcolonial studies and an everyday discourse in which the idea of culture plays an increasingly important part. The new edition also surveys the very latest developments in the field and considers the directions cultural history may be taking in the twenty-first century.

The second edition of What is Cultural History? will continue to be an essential textbook for all students of history as well as those taking courses in cultural, anthropological and literary studies.

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  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Great Tradition
  • Classic Cultural History
  • Culture and Society
  • The Discovery of the People
  • 2. Problems of Cultural History
  • The Classics Revisited
  • Marxist Debates
  • The Paradoxes of Tradition
  • Popular Culture in Question
  • What is Culture?
  • 3. The Moment of Historical Anthropology
  • The Expansion of Culture
  • The Moment of Historical Anthropology
  • Under the Microscope
  • Postcolonialism and Feminism
  • 4. A New Paradigm?
  • Four Theorists
  • Practices
  • Representations
  • Material Culture
  • The History of the Body
  • 5. From Representation to Construction
  • The Rise of Constructivism
  • New Constructions
  • Performances and Occasions
  • Deconstruction
  • 6. Beyond the Cultural Turn?
  • Burckhardt’s Return
  • Politics, Violence and Emotions
  • The Revenge of Social History
  • Frontiers and Encounters
  • Narrative in Cultural History
  • Conclusion
  • Afterword: Cultural History in the Twenty-First Century
  • A changing scene
  • Cultural History and its Neighbours
  • Culture in Question
  • Notes
  • Select Publications: A Chronological List
  • Further Reading
  • Index
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Peter Burke is Professor Emeritus of Cultural History at the University of Cambridge.
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  • A new edition of the best-selling introductory book to cultural history.
  • Written by one of the world’s top cultural historians.
  • Brings this primer up-to-date with new material on the turns cultural history is taking in the early 21st Century and further-reaching global examples.
  • Cultural history is very interdisciplinary, and this book finds a market beyond history and historiography, across the humanities.
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“Peter Burke has done it again! Outstanding scholar of early modern Europe, Burke has added an important work to his writings on the historian’s craft. From its nineteenth-century origins, "cultural history" appears here in its varied recent forms, shifting in its relation to social history, anthropology and literature, and changing its terms, concepts and targets. Both critical and generous, Burke suggests the paths ahead. This lucid book will delight any reader who wants to learn what contemporary historians are up to and where they might go.”
Natalie Zemon Davis, University of Toronto

“There is no clearer, more erudite, more humane voice in the field of cultural history than that of Peter Burke. This book is a delight, a tour in the company of a sure and steady guide to the ways men and women in the past have tried to make sense of the world in which they live.”
Jay Winter, Yale University

Acclaim for previous edition:

"What is Cultural History? is replete with useful information. Professor Burke is excellent at giving the reader handy sketches of the ideas of Michel de Certeau, Michel Foucault, Orientalism, the representation of the body, material culture, and so on."
The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

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