The cultural history term refers both to the academic discipline and to its subject matter. The cultural history, as a field, at least in its general definition since the 1970s, generally combines the approaches of the history and anthropology in order to look at popular cultural interpretations and cultural traditions of the historical experience.
Cultural history is not a new discovery or invention. It was already practiced in Germany under that name (Kulturge-schichte) more than two hundred years ago. Before this time, there were separate histories of philosophy, painting, literature, chemistry, language and so on. From the 1780s onwards, we find histories of human culture or the culture of particular regions or nations.
In the nineteenth century, the term 'Culture' or 'Kultur' was employed more and more often in Britain and in Germany (the French preferred to speak of civilization). Thus the poet Matthew Arnold published his Culture and Anarchy in 1869, and the anthropologist Edward Tylor his Primitive Culture in 1871, while in Germany in the 1870s, a bitter conflict between Church and State became known as the 'struggle for culture' (Kulturkampf), or as we say today, 'culture wars'.
In a brief chapter such as this there is only room to sketch the history of cultural history, taking a few of the main threads and showing how they were interwoven. The story may be divided into four phases: the 'classic' phase; the phase of the 'social history of art', which began in the 1930s; the discovery of the history of popular culture in the 1960s; and the 'new cultural history', which will be discussed in later chapters. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the divisions between these phases were not as clear at the time as people remember them after the event, and a number of similarities or continuities between older and newer styles of Cultural history will be pointed out in the appropriate places.