Edward Everett Root Publishers Co. Ltd.


About this book

​This volume gathers Professor Burke's most important essays on the theory and the practice of history. In the first part, the main theme is the way in which concepts borrowed from social and cultural theory may encourage historians to ask new questions about the past or help them to answer old ones.

The second part of the author's work is to illustrate some major new trends in historical practice: the use of images as evidence, for instance, the interest in different attitudes to time, and the increasing awareness of the relation, close or distant, between historians and the past that they study.



Section A. Theory.

1. The Art of Re-Interpretation: Michel de Certeau.

2.  Performing History: the Importance of Occasions.

3.  Translating Knowledge: Translating Cultures.

4.  The History and Theory of Reception.

Section B. Practice.

5.  Images as Evidence in Seventeenth-Century Europe.  

6.  Reflections on the Cultural History of Time.

7.  The Cultural History of Intellectual Practices: an overview.

8.  The Invention of Micro-history

9.  A Short History of Distance.

10. Detachment and Involvement in Historical Writing.

11. Exemplarity and Anti-Exemplarity in Early Modern Europe.

12. Historical Discourse in Renaissance Italy.

About the author

Peter Burke was, from 1962-79, one of the leading educational innovators in developing the inter-disciplinary School of European Studies at University of Sussex. He then moved to the University of Cambridge, where he now holds the title of Professor Emeritus of Cultural History and Fellow of Emmanuel College. He is celebrated world-wide as a historian both of the early modern era and as a writer and teacher who emphasizes the relevance of social and cultural history to modern issues. He is married o Brazilian historian Maria Lúcia Garcia Pallares-Burke.

His many influential works include The Italian Renaissance (1972); Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (1978); Sociology and History (1980); The Renaissance (1987); The French Historical Revolution: The Annales School 1929-89 (1990); History and Social Theory (1991); The Fabrication of Louis XIV (1992); The Art of Conversation (1993); Varieties of Cultural History (1997); The European Renaissance: Centres and Peripheries (1998); A Social History of Knowledge (2000); Eyewitnessing (2000); New Perspectives on Historical Writing (2001) (editor and contributor); A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet (2002) (with Asa Briggs); What is Cultural History? (2004); Languages and Communities in Early Modern Europe (2004); Cultural Hybridity (2009); and

A Social History of Knowledge Volume II: From the Encyclopedie to Wikipedia (2012).


"It is the merit of the publishers E. E. Root to have devoted a whole series to the authoritative cultural historian Peter Burke." - Professor Michaela Valente, Sezione Notizie Archivio storico italiano. 

What is History Really About?

Reflections On Theory and Practice

Peter Burke

ISBN 9781912224128  Paperback  £24.99  Order
ISBN 9781912224111  Hardback   £60.00  Order

211 x 148mm  224pp.

See also - click on covers to