Cultural Historian (cultural + historian)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Classicism, Enlightenment and the ,Other': thoughts on decoding eighteenth,century visual culture

ART HISTORY, Issue 3 2002
Maiken UmbachArticle first published online: 22 DEC 200
Cultural historians have been slow to respond to the pictorial turn. They often find images too ambiguous to use as sources in their own right. This problem is aggravated by two characteristics shared by early modern and postmodern visual culture: both transgress boundaries of genre (such as the text/image divide), and both tend to be notoriously fluid and plural in terms of their ,message'. The nineteenth,century Idealist notion of ,art', by contrast, celebrates unity of style and content, and tolerates multiple meanings only where they can be resolved in dialectical synthesis. This legacy continues to prevent us from understanding visual evidence which conforms to neither requirement. Drawing on readings of the contemporary landscape art of Ian Hamilton Finlay and Cy Twombly, this article proposes a new approach to visual culture of pre,Idealist periods, for which ambiguous allusive fields and transgressions of genre were constitutive. The eighteenth century's use of classical culture is a case in point, here exemplified by a close reading of the multi-layered trope of Arcadia. The conclusions that emerge from this reading call into question negative assumptions about the Enlightenment's dogmatic rationalism which have dominated historiography from Romanticism to postmodernism. The ,image,texts, of the eighteenth century destabilized hegemonic rationality without promoting its opposite, instead integrating the ,other' into a self,reflexive and self,critical Enlightenment ideology. [source]

Ideology, Semiotics, and Clifford Geertz: Some Russian Reflections

Andrey Zorin
This article, written by a Russian cultural historian, analyzes the concept of "ideology" in the work of Clifford Geertz and his role in understanding the figurative nature of ideology as a cultural system. The author compares Geertz's semiotic approach to culture with the semiotics of culture developed by Russian theorists, particularly Yuri Lotman, showing the convergence and divergence of the two different national traditions. This understanding of the nature and functions of ideology opens new possibilities for discussing the tortured relations of ideology and literature, showing the way fiction can affect the formation of ideological systems and influence practical politics. The analysis is illustrated by examples from Russian political life of the 1990s,when revolutionary changes demanded new sets of ideological metaphors that in their turn shaped the direction of events. [source]


ART HISTORY, Issue 5 2005
Stephen Bann is well known as an art critic, art historian, cultural historian and museologist, but his writings have yet to be discovered from the point of view of media theory. This article applies Bann's proposal of an ,ironical museum' to a self-reflective media culture, while at the same time establishing the difference between a media-archaeological and an art-historical approach, particularly in accounts of new media in the first half of the nineteenth century and in the present. To what extent was the historical imagination developed in the romantic period an effect of new media and new media technologies? It is argued that although the discourse of history has always depended on the media of its representation (verbal and visual), its character changed dramatically with the arrival of mechanical means for recording historical evidence. The ,antiquarian' method of archival investigation of the past, with its almost haptic taste for the mouldy, decaying fragment, is considered and compared to narrative aesthetics. A key question is considered from different disciplinary perspectives: can we speak of a cultural transition or a radical break with the emergence of photography? The essay concludes that what we learn from Stephen Bann's analyses is the significance of an ever-alert awareness of the intricate relations between cultural and technological phenomena, a kind of media self-irony which, apparently, was present in the past to antiquaries and historiographers, to painters, engravers and to creators of historical museums. [source]

Münsterberg's nightmare: Psychology and history in fin-de-siècle Germany and America

Manuel Stoffers Lecturer
This article demonstrates that Hugo Münsterberg's presidential address "Psychology and History," delivered to the American Psychological Association in 1898, should be understood in the German context of the 1890s. It constituted a response to a central feature of fin-de-siècle culture in Europe, the revolt against positivism. To be more precise, Münsterberg reacted against a new intellectual trend that was arising in Germany in the middle 1890s: the call for a historically oriented social psychology put forward by Wilhelm Dilthey,who was explicitly attacking Münsterberg's physiological conception of psychology,and new cultural historians like Karl Lamprecht and others who seemed to be putting Dilthey's program into practice. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. [source]