The New Cultural History Essays

Across the humanities and the social sciences, disciplinary boundaries have come into question as scholars have acknowledged their common preoccupations with cultural phenomena ranging from rituals and ceremonies to texts and discourse. Literary critics, for example, have turned to history for a deepening of their notion of cultural products; some of them now read historical documents in the same way that they previously read "great" texts. Anthropologists have turned to the history of their own discipline in order to better understand the ways in which disciplinary authority was constructed. As historians have begun to participate in this ferment, they have moved away from their earlier focus on social theoretical models of historical development toward concepts taken from cultural anthropology and literary criticism.

Much of the most exciting work in history recently has been affiliated with this wide-ranging effort to write history that is essentially a history of culture. The essays presented here provide an introduction to this movement within the discipline of history. The essays in Part One trace the influence of important models for the new cultural history, models ranging from the pathbreaking work of the French cultural critic Michel Foucault and the American anthropologist Clifford Geertz to the imaginative efforts of such contemporary historians as Natalie Davis and E. P. Thompson, as well as the more controversial theories of Hayden White and Dominick LaCapra. The essays in Part Two are exemplary of the most challenging and fruitful new work of historians in this genre, with topics as diverse as parades in 19th-century America, 16th-century Spanish texts, English medical writing, and the visual practices implied in Italian Renaissance frescoes. Beneath this diversity, however, it is possible to see the commonalities of the new cultural history as it takes shape. Students, teachers, and general readers interested in the future of history will find these essays stimulating and provocative.

Lynn Hunt is Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

"An important and provocative argument for the 'new cultural history,' an approach to history that stresses the importance of meaning in social action and the complexity of recovering the dynamics of expression and interpretation in the past."—Michael MacDonald, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"An extremely important work that explains what is meant by 'the new cultural history.' It successfully explores the central ideas of this line of research, and it shows how this growing new field relates to developments in such other disciplines as anthropology. The book is uncommonly readable."—Elvin Hatch, University of California, Santa Barbara

"A lively and timely guide to a body of theory, some of it notoriously difficult, that is currently shaping academic practice."—Jan Goldstein, University of Chicago

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“[A] fresh new study on a well-trodden topic. Revisiting the historiography of Peronism, the volume’s editors suggest that much of the theoretical confusion about Peronism comes from analytical studies which take a political or social focus as its main orientation, neglecting to consider the cultural side of Peronism.... While historians and social theorists looked at culture in the years of Peronism’s advance in power as consequential to class and political developments, this volume argues that culture was the base from which Peronism developed its appeal and through an examination of cultural aspects of the Peronist discourse and of the narrative of the new Argentinian state one can understand the development and shortcomings of Peronism.” — Isabel DiVanna, Canadian Journal of History

“Each piece stands as an excellent addition to the scholarship of this era; together, they provide any reader with a revealing insight into the actions
the Peronists took to make sure that they would have a lasting legacy in every facet of Argentine life.” — Gregory Hammond, Hispanic American Historical Review

“One of the particular strengths of this work is the complexity of this new cultural history of Argentina…Karush and Chimosa effectively elucidate the breadth and depth of new scholarship in the cultural history of the Perón years. Their volume ends with an essay in which Mariano Ben Plotkin outlines topics worthy of further exploration, making this work invaluable for graduate students interested in Peronist studies.” — Matthew A. Redinger, Ethnohistory

“This edited volume of eight published essays, which also includes a succinct historiography of Peronism (in the editors’ introduction) and a thoughtful afterword by Mariano Plotkin, expands our understanding of the first two presidencies of Juan Domingo Perón (1946–1952 and 1952–1955) by focusing on the intersection between culture and cul- tural reception in an era of increasing commercialism.…While the contributors to this volume are primarily historians, they provide an interdisciplinary approach to under- standing Peronism by including in their inquiries beauty pageants, folklore, political demonstrations, political rhetoric, visual imagery, and the study of emotions.” — Kristen McCleary, The Americas

“[A] useful resource for those interested in Latin American history, offering plenty of themes for undergraduates to explore. . . . The New Cultural History of Peronism provides a rich cross-section of case studies to parallel and contrast. While it is an invaluable resource for more specialist researchers of Latin American history and politics, I believe its focus on the cultural aspects of governance is an approach that would be welcomed by cultural studies scholars studying political formations in other national contexts.” — Andrew King, Cultural Studies Review

“This book edited by Matthew Karush and Oscar Chamosa adds a fresh perspective to the already voluminous scholarship on Peronism. . . . [T]he essays’ range of topics, theoretical sophistication, and clear writing make this book an excellent choice for classroom use. To conclude, this book is a fruitful addition to the study of Peronism that will additionally interest scholars and students beyond its specific case study.” — Jorge Nállim, Left History

"The collection examines cultural changes in the years between 1943 and 1955 and makes a good case for viewing the Argentina of 1955 as culturally a very different country."  — Joel Horowitz, Latin American Research Review

“This book edited by Matthew Karush and Oscar Chamosa adds a fresh perspective to the already voluminous scholarship on Peronism. . . . [T]he essays’ range of topics, theoretical sophistication, and clear writing make this book an excellent choice for classroom use. To conclude, this book is a fruitful addition to the study of Peronism that will additionally interest scholars and students beyond its specific case study.” — Jorge Nállim, Left History

“[A] useful resource for those interested in Latin American history, offering plenty of themes for undergraduates to explore. . . . The New Cultural History of Peronism provides a rich cross-section of case studies to parallel and contrast. While it is an invaluable resource for more specialist researchers of Latin American history and politics, I believe its focus on the cultural aspects of governance is an approach that would be welcomed by cultural studies scholars studying political formations in other national contexts.” — Andrew King, Cultural Studies Review

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