H680 | 2990 | Wahrman

5:00-7:00P     R     BH235

Topic: Introduction to Cultural History
Obtain on-line auth for above section from Graduate Secretary
Above section meets with CULS C701

What is cultural history? Is it defined through particular kinds of
subject matter, through a distinctive methodology, through new
historical sensibilities, or through a different hermeneutics of
suspicion in historical analysis? This course critically evaluates
this exciting field as it has developed over the last generation. It
introduces debates that are currently at the center of
cultural-historical practice, as well as works that are considered
"classics", in the sense that they have become indispensable reference
points for all practitioners in the field, shaping historical practice
irreversibly and far beyond the boundaries of their specific subject
matter. While reading key theoretical manifestos which "new" cultural
historians repeatedly invoke as their sources of inspiration, the
course is primarily based on works of actual historical research (and
historicist research in neighboring disciplines), drawn from a number
of different periods (primarily early-modern to modern), places and
problematics. Although the historical topics and contexts raised by
those books are of obvious importance, students are expected to focus
their attention on the methodological, theoretical and conceptual
breakthroughs they represent; issues which they can then bring to bear
on the planning and conceptualization of their own historical

Typical topics that come under the purview of this course include the
history of class and the "linguistic turn"; the move from history of
women to history of gender (and sex); different methodological
approaches to cross-cultural encounters (and understandings of
"race"); the history, and validity, of the distinction between fact
and fiction; the uses and abuses of "narrative"; the origins of
historical meta-narratives (e.g. "modernity") and the stakes in their
de-naturalization; the dangers of cultural constructionism and the
potential comeback of "neo-essentialism". Of particular interest is
the breaking of disciplinary boundaries entailed by cultural history -
both within the study of history itself, and between history and its
cognate neighbors (in particular literary criticism and history of
art), thus expanding the scope of cultural-historical interest (to
novels, art, drama, etc).