Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

What I'm Doing

I'm reading Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg's The Cheese and the Worms for my current project. I'm enjoying the book so much that I wasn't able to keep the promise I made to myself to stop reading it after the introduction. It does a lot of the things I like in Foucault's work -- which also, not coincidentally, are the things Ginzburg likes in Foucault's work -- without drifting into the realms of airy abstraction where individual cases look like instances of a collective pattern. There's a main character in the book, which is unusual for historiography, especially the sort that refuses to adopt the "Great Men" approach to the subject. Aside from the compelling storytelling, though, the best thing about The Cheese and the Worms is the argument it makes for using the term "popular culture". I desperately needed a definition that comes close to my own and now I have one. Played off against De Certeau on the one hand and Lévi-Strauss on the other, it will give me the authoritative reinforcement I require to sell my points to a skeptical public.
Tags: history, theory

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