Posts Tagged ‘social history’

I’ve always been more interested in social and cultural histories than the “great man theory” or the model of “events, dates, models.” I especially like to learn about literature and media in the context of the culture and to show how quickly we forget how recent many trends and ways of thinking are–or how old some “new” ways of thinking are! Great discussion in the article and comments of what cultural history means.

上り口説 Nubui Kuduchi

This question came up in our research seminar today. I’d actually been thinking about it for awhile, as I consider myself a “cultural historian,” but when pressed, wasn’t actually sure exactly what I meant by that. And, perhaps more importantly, because we hear the term a lot, and I’m never quite sure that others are always using it in the same way. In a seminar last year, we read sections from Lynn Hunt’s The New Cultural History; we were told this was itself a seminal text in, or was representative of, the “cultural turn,” whatever that means. As with most Theory/Historiography books I’ve been assigned, I came out of it with little clear sense of what it was talking about. And so, finding this book to be dramatically different from my own understandings (or assumptions) as to what constituted “cultural history,” I began to wonder, What is Cultural History?

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“Sexual Equality” Causes Birth Dearth, Makes Unicorns Sad

 "To My Only Desire." The Lady and the Unicorn. Image copyright Musée national du Moyen Âge.

“To My Only Desire.” The Lady and the Unicorn. Image copyright Musée national du Moyen Âge.

I’m sure no one is surprised that C.B. Liddell, the art critic who tragically  just “can’t” understand women continues to fail at discussing women in art, or, to be perfectly honest, art itself. The National Art Center in Tokyo recently hosted an exhibition of medieval/Renaissance art, including the famous tapestries The Lady and the Unicorn. I knew the writer of “Making Sense of Medieval Avatars” was Liddell the moment I read the first paragraph:

The Western model of sexual equality — one that drives women to focus on careers but also contributes to lower birthrates — may not be an entirely unmixed blessing, but the roots of the West’s gender attitudes run deep and stem from some interesting places, as “The Lady and the Unicorn” exhibition at The National Art Center, Tokyo shows.

Yes, how horrible that women want to 1. have control over their bodies, including reproduction, and 2. enjoy fulfilling careers and/or financial independence! It must be the West’s fault for bringing the poison of what Liddell thinks is “sexual equality” to Japan. You know, because we women in “the West” are not all busy fighting for equal recognition on bank notes or to not be raped while serving their country or to have access to equal wages or anything like that.


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