We are unable to display your institutional affiliation without JavaScript turned on.
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE


Download PDF

Observations on an Emergent Specialization: Contemporary French Cultural History—Significance for Scholarship


The historical profession and its attendant scholarship are composed of different specializations and sub-disciplines. Among these, political, economic, and social history are well known. Recently, historical research has encompassed such fields as environmental, gender, and ethnic history to complement such diverse specialties as history of science, history of technology, and history of exploration. In the past twenty years, cultural history has emerged in France, with characteristics that have engaged newly honed orientations toward the historical examination of cultural production and cultural objects, if not processes. Informed by philosophical and historiographic analysis, as well as by interdisciplinary interventions in historical research and scholarship, contemporary French cultural history focuses on the history of publishing, scholarship, mass media and spectacles, libraries, and museums, as well as opera and music. Not confined to these, contemporary French cultural history privileges specialization in nineteenth- and twentieth-century French phenomena, in the main, but its historiographic innovation and publication extend to an international audience. This cursory and exploratory essay attempts to situate contemporary French cultural history as a specialization and as a vector in the contemporary historiographic landscape.