Monday, February 6, 2023

Richard Kostelanetz on Intellectual and Cultural History

Writing on the subject of “Intellectual History” in The Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, Richard Kostelanetz draws a distinction between “Cultural History” and “Intellectual History.”   

Kostelanetz tells us that Cultural History “records the art and thought of one or another circumscribed groups.” Intellectual History is distinguished as “the best that is thought and thus most likely to be remembered on the largest stage.” The short entry concludes, “Most of this Dictionary aims to be Intellectual History” (209-210).

Earlier, in an article on “Cultural Wars,” Kostelanetz observes the term arose originally as a legitimate form of protest over injustices driven by race, geography and gender “(but never religion or age).” These protests, writes Kostelanetz, “distracted from the more profound, more historic, more continuing conflicts between the commercial and the non-commercial, between mediocrity and excellence, and between establishments and the avant-gardes” (100).

A tremendous resource. Please click the cover image to view the Amazon description:

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