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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The popular culture of early modern Europe is best conceptualized as ‘the cultures of peoples’ because of the continent’s diversity. Historians of popular culture have explored the interdisciplinary territory between history and anthropology, art history, literary theory, gender, and cognitive studies. Few fields have been more transformed by the methodological and theoretical shifts of the history profession. Such inquiries have overturned generalizations about the dependence of popular culture on elite culture, the monolithic nature of popular culture, and the supposed shortcomings of its religious practices. Attention to popular culture has revealed the impact of ordinary people on state development, the porous boundaries between learned and popular knowledge, and the selective appropriation of elite culture for popular purposes. This chapter assesses current dilemmas in the field, including contemporary confusion between microhistory and micronarratives and the potential pitfalls of seeking a contemporary audience for the study of popular cultures.

Keywords: Popular culture, early modern Europe, microhistory, cultural history, history and anthropology

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