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Venice Stream Historiography Seminar 10: Ginzburg - the Uses of Case-study

(after a lecture on `Ginzburg: Micro-history and the Anthropologists’)

What is micro-history? What kind of methods and perspectives does it involve? Is a micro-history like The Cheese and the Worms a case-study, or `just a story’? How do historians using its methods relate their `case’ to wider contexts? Do they even try to do that? Is the micro-historian’s approach comparable to that of the anthropologist, working on and representing `other’ cultures’?


Ginzburg, C., The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller ([1976] London, 1980), xi-xxvi, 1-41, 112-128

Ginzburg, C., ‘Killing a Chinese Mandarin: On the Moral Implications of Distance’, Critical Inquiry, 21 (1994), 46-60

Background Seminar Reading:

Gentilcore, D., `Anthropological Approaches’, in G. Walker (ed.), Writing Early Modern History (London, 2005), 49-70

Green, A., & Troup, K. (eds), The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth-century History and Theory (Manchester, 1999), 172-81 (‘Anthropology and Ethnohistory’)

Iggers, G. & Wang, Q. E., A Global History of Modern Historiography (London, 2008), pp. 275-277

Levi, G., ‘On Microhistory’, in P. Burke (ed.), New Perspectives on Historical Writing (Cambridge, 1991), 93-113

Munslow, A., The Routledge Companion to Historical Studies (London, 2000), 64-67

Questions for Seminar Preparation (may also be used as essay titles):

What, if anything, was methodologically innovative about The Cheese and the Worms?

How can historians retrieve the experience of reading (of Menocchio’s reading) in the past?

What were the influences of anthropology on The Cheese and the Worms?

What is Ginzburg’s view of the role of the historian?

1. Other Works by Carlo Ginzburg

Ginzburg, C., `The High and the Low: The Theme of Forbidden Knowledge in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries’, Past & Present, 73 (1976), 28-41, reprinted in Ginzburg, Myths, Emblems, Clues (London, 1990), 60-76

Ginzburg, C., ‘Morelli, Freud and Sherlock Holmes: Clues and Scientific Method’, History Workshop Journal, 9 (1980), 5-36, reprinted as ‘Clues: Roots of an Evidential Paradigm’, in Ginzburg, Myths, Emblems, Clues (London, 1990), 96-127

Ginzburg, C., The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (London, 1983)

Ginzburg, C., The Enigma of Piero: Piero della Francesca: The Baptism, The Arezzo Cycle, The Flagellation ((London, 1985)

Ginzburg, C., Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath (London, 1989)

Ginzburg, C., Myths, Emblems, Clues (London, 1990), 60-76

Ginzburg, C., ‘Checking the Evidence: the Judge and the Historian’, Critical Inquiry 18 (1991), 79-82

Ginzburg, C., The Judge and the Historian: Marginal Notes on a Late Twentieth-Century Miscarriage of Justice (London, 1999)

Ginzburg, C., Wooden Eyes: Nine Reflections on Distance (London, 2002)

Ginzburg, C., ‘Family Resemblances and Family Trees: Two Cognitive Metaphors’, Critical Inquiry 30 (2004), 537-56

2. Discussions of Ginzburg’s Work:

Burke, P., ‘Talking Out the Cosmos [Review of Ginzburg, The Cheese & the Worms & of Falassi, Folklore by the Fireside’, History Today 31 (1981), 54-55.

Burke, P. ‘Introduction: Carlo Ginzburg, Detective’, in Carlo Ginzburg, The Enigma of Piero: Piero della Francesca: The Baptism, The Arezzo Cycle, The Flagellation (London, 1985), 1-5

Chiappelli, F, ‘Review [of Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms]’, Renaissance Quarterly, 34 (1981), 397-400

Cohn, S., ‘Review [of Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms]’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 12 (1982), 523-5

Del Col, A., ‘Introduction’, in A. Del Col (ed.), Domenico Scandella, Known as Mennochio: His Trials Before the Inquisition (1583-1599), xi-cxii

Elliott, J. H., ‘Rats or Cheese? [Review of Cipolla, Faith, Reason & Plague & of Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms]’, New York Review of Books 27:11 (26 June 1980).

Ginzburg, C., & Gundersen, T. R., ‘On the Dark Side of History’, Eurozine (11 July, 2003) []

Hunter, M., ‘Review [of Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms]’, History 66 (1981), 296

Kelly, W. W., ‘Review [of Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms]’, Journal of Peasant Studies 11 (1982), 119-21

LaCapra, D., `The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Twentieth-Century Historian’, in LaCapra, History and Criticism (Ithaca, 1980), 45-70

Luria, K., ‘The Paradoxical Carlo Ginzburg’, Radical History Review 35 (1986), 80-87

Luria, K. & Gandolfo, R., ‘Carlo Ginzburg: An Interview’, Radical History Review, 35 (1986), 89-111.

Martin, J., ‘Journey to the World of the Dead: The Work of Carlo Ginzburg’, Journal of Social History, 25 (1992), 613-26

Midelfort, H., ‘Review [of Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms]’, Catholic Historical Review 68 (1982), 513-4

Molho, T., ‘Carlo Ginzburg: Reflections on the Intellectual Cosmos of a 20th-Century Historian’, History of European Ideas, 30 (2004), 121-148

Schutte, A. J., ‘Review [of Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms]’, Church History, 51 (1982), 218

Schutte, A. J., ‘Review Article: Carlo Ginzburg’, Journal of Modern History, 48 (1976), 296-315

Scribner, R. W., ‘Is a History of Popular Culture Possible?’, History of European Ideas, 10 (1989), 175-91

Scribner, R., ‘The Historical Anthropology of Early Modern Europe’, in R. Po-Chia Hsia & R. W. Scribner (eds), Problems in the Historical Anthropology of Early Modern Europe (Wiesbaden, 1997), 11-34

Valeri, V., ‘Review [of Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms]’, Journal of Modern History, 54 (1982), 139-43

Zambelli, P., ‘From Menocchio to Piero della Francesca: The Work of Carlo Ginzburg’, Historical Journal 28 (1985), 983-99

3. History and Anthropology:

Burke, P., History and Social Theory (Cambridge, 1992), esp. chs.1 & 4

Cohn, B. S., 'History and Anthropology: The State of Play', Comparative Studies in Society and History, 22 (1980), 198-221

Geertz, C., ‘Thick Description: Toward an Interpretative Theory of Culture’, ‘Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight’, in Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York, 1973), 3-30, 412-53

Geertz, H. , & Thomas, K. V. ‘An Anthropology of Religion and Magic, I & II’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 6 (1975), 71-109

Sabean, D., Power in the Blood: Popular Culture and Village Discourse in Early Modern Germany (Cambridge, 1984)

Thompson, E. P., ‘Folklore, Anthropology and Social History’, Indian Historical Review, 3 (1977), 247-66

Walters, R. G., ‘Signs of the Times: Clifford Geertz and Historians’, Social Research, 47 (1980), 537-556

4. On Microhistory:

Ginzburg, C., ‘Micro-history: Two or Three Things That I Know About It’, Critical Inquiry, 20 (1993), 10-35

Gray, M., ‘Micro-history as Universal History’, Central European History 34:3 (2001), 419-31

Gregory, B. S., ‘Is Small Beautiful? Micro-history and the History of Everyday Life’, History and Theory, 38:1 (February 1999), 100-110

Iggers, G. G., Historiography in the Twentieth Century: from Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Middletown CT, 1997), ch.9

Kuehn, T., ‘Reading Micro-history: The Example of Giovanni and Lusanna’, Journal of Modern History, 61:3 (1989), 512-34

Magnusson, S. G., ‘The Singularisation of History: Social History and Micro-history within the Postmodern State of Knowledge’, Journal of Social History, 36 (2003), 701-35.

Magnusson, S. G., ‘Social History as “Sites of Memory”? The Institutionalisation of History: Micro-history and the Grand Narrative’, Journal of Social History 39:3 (2006), 891-913

Muir, E., & Ruggiero, G. (eds), History from Crime: Selections from Quaderni Storici (Baltimore, 1994)

Muir, E., & Ruggiero, G. (eds), Microhistory and the Lost Peoples of Europe: Selections from Quaderni Storici (Baltimore, 1991)

Muir, E., & Ruggiero, G. (eds), Sex and Gender in Historical Perspective: Selections from Quaderni Storici (Baltimore, 1990)

Peltonen, M., `Clues, Margins and Monads: The Micro-Macro Link in Historical Research’, History and Theory 40 (2001), 347-59

Ruggiero, G., Binding Passions: Tales of Magic, Marriage and Power at the End of the Renaissance (Oxford, 1993)

Szijarto, I., ‘Four Arguments for Micro-history’, Rethinking History 6:2 (2002), 209-15

5. On the ‘New Cultural History’ (Again):

Aries, P., et al., A History of Private Life (5 vols., Cambridge MASS, 1987-94)

Burke, P. (ed.), New Perspectives on Historical Writing (Cambridge, 1991)

Burke, P., Varieties of Cultural History (Cambridge, 1997)

Burke, P., What Is Cultural History (Cambridge, 2004)

Christie, N. J, ‘From Intellectual to Cultural History: The Comparative Catalyst’, Journal of History and Politics, 6 (1988-89), 79-100

Gaskill, M., Crime and Mentalities in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2000), 3-29

Hunt, L. (ed.), The New Cultural History (Berkeley, 1989), Intro.

Hunt, L., Politics, Culture and Class in the French Revolution (Berkeley, 1984)

Hunt, L., The Family Romance of the French Revolution (Berkeley, 1992)

Hutton, P. H., ‘The History of Mentalities: The New Map of Cultural History’, History & Theory, 20 (1981), 237-259, & reprinted in S. Clark (ed.), The Annales School: Critical Assessments (4 vols, London, 1999), II, 381-403

Jones, C., ‘A Fine “Romance” with No Sisters?’, French Historical Studies, 19 (1995), 277-87 (also response by L. Hunt, ‘Reading the French Revolution: A Reply’, French Historical Studies, 19 (1995), 289-98

LaCapra, D. & Kaplan, S. L. (eds), Modern European Intellectual History: Reappraisals and New Perspectives (Ithaca, 1982)

LaCapra, D., ‘Is Everyone a Mentalité Case? Transference and the “Culture” Concept’, History & Theory 23 (1984), 296-311, & reprinted in LaCapra, History and Criticism (Ithaca, 1980), 71-94

Licht, W., ‘Cultural History/Social History: A Review Essay’, Historical Methods 25 (1992), 37-41

Nussdorfer, L., ‘The New Cultural History’, History & Theory, 32 (1993), 74-83

Pittock, J. H., & Wear, A. (eds), Interpretation and Cultural History (Basingstoke, 1991)

Poster, M., Cultural History and Postmodernity: Disciplinary Readings and Challenges (New York, 1997)

Stewart, P., ‘This Is Not a Book Review: On Historical Uses of Literature’, Journal of Modern History, 66 (1994), 521-538 & reply by L. Hunt, ‘The Objects of History: A Reply To Philip Stewart’, Journal of Modern History, 66 (1994), 539-546