POPULAR CULTURES 1978 – Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early



1978 – Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe

Robert Muchembled,

Culture populaire et culture des élites dans la France

Moderne (XVe-XVIIIe siècle)

Already social historians such as Natalie Zemon Davis taking sociological and anthropological approaches to early modern culture

Historians of literature and witchcraft

Popular vs elite culture (Muchembled)

But also disputes regarding approaches, definition and interpretation:

 ‘Is the History of Popular Culture Possible?’ (Scribner)

 ‘The Dilemma of Popular History’ (Strauss and Beik)

Understanding Popular Culture (Kaplan, ed.)

 The New Cultural History – Foucault, Bourdieu, Derrida

Popular cultures – no uniform experience

Significance of ritual:

 expression of communal values and customs

 processions and festivals e.g. Conards at Rouen

 public humiliation, moral regulation, e.g. charivari, cuckoldry

 mockery and satire e.g. skimmington

 role of popular religion

 safety valve for grievances and protest

 also need to consider everyday activities

 exclusive as well as inclusive, increasing marginalisation

 attacked by emphasis on patriarchy and hierarchy

Popular literature:

 prints, woodcuts, chapbooks, ballads, almanachs

 recapture elusive oral culture e.g. punctuation (Chartier)

 literate vs semi-literate culture?

 consumer overlap

Muchembled et al:

Religious change: Reformations suppress popular religion through emphasis on order and conformity

Political change: increased centralisation curbs popular culture through emphasis on order and conformity

Economic change: increased population and instability leads to acceptance of imposition of order and conformity

 Clark et al extremely critical of underlying assumptions

Another approach:

 centralised/uniformity vs localised/diversity

 reflects political geography e.g. rural/urban distinction

 resilience of popular culture

 test case = witchcraft prosecution