Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Jacob Burckhardt and “The Greek Cultural History”

Prof. Benjamin C Sax.

The new or renewed interest in cultural history in the last several decades has neither answered the question of what is cultural history nor resolved the problem of the relationship of cultural history to other approached to history. In this paper I would like to go back to the works of Jacob Burckhardt – often recognized as the founder of cultural history – to examine how he defines cultural history and how it is worked out in his major texts of cultural history. In particular I am concerned with an often neglected text of his and one that has recently been re-edited and finally translated into a more-or-less complete edition in English. This is “The Greek Cultural History” – a text that, I will argue, offers a fuller and richer notion of cultural history than Burckhardt’s better-known work, “The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy.” “The Greek Cultural History” is a dense and difficult work to comprehend. Its organization is hard to follow. Yet, I will show that Burckhardt”s “thesis” is the textual presentation of the cultural whole itself.


Prof. Benjamin C Sax  (United States)
Department of History
University of Kansas

I have published on the problems of cultural history and in the field of the philosophy of history

  • Cultural History
  • Jacob Burckhardt

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)