Culture, Ideas, and Society
CULTURE, IDEAS, AND SOCIETY
Culture is “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by …member[s] of society" and also transmitted by them. Culture is thus history in its broadest sense. This concentration reflects the burgeoning cultural history of the last twenty years and encompasses the study of the history of ideas; popular and elite cultures; material culture; work, leisure and consumption; and the formation of religious, gender, national, ethnic, and racial identities.
Students in this concentration explore the history of culture and ideas, the modes of their transmission, and the nature of their reception. Students learn to engage in close readings of a wide variety of historical sources and to interpret all variety of written texts and manuscripts as well as objects, art, architecture, film, theater, literature, photographs, oral traditions, performances, ceremonies and customs. These interpretations are then grounded as students contextualize the sources within their particular times, places, and historical trends. By focusing on method as well as content, this concentration offers students specialized training applicable to all areas of history. Students are encouraged to work with faculty in related disciplines such as Anthropology, Art History, Classics, English, and Gender and Women’s Studies to strengthen their interpretive skills.
 This definition is the 1871 formulation of anthropologist Edward. B. Tylor.