The Course of Civilizations
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By Johan Huizinga
The Course of Civilizations is a masterful collection of essays by cultural historian Johan Huizinga on the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the concepts of history and culture. In his exceptionally creative approach to history—called “cultural history”—Huizinga gave primacy of place to social relations, from which a culture derives its formative ideas and thus its unique character. The essays in this volume cover a fascinating range of topics, including the task of the historian; the role of ideals in cultural evolution; nationalism and patriotism; realism and the Renaissance; and a series of biographical portraits. Delivered in Huizinga’s classic, approachable voice, they present a compelling, critical treatise on how historical periods realize their shape and meaning within the broader context of the course of civilizations.
“The chief task of cultural history is the morphological understanding and description of the actual, specific course of civilizations.” ~Johan Huizinga
Johan Huizinga (1872–1945) was a Dutch historian, philosopher, and a founder of modern cultural history. He was professor of history at Gronigen University from 1905 to 1915 and at Leiden University from 1915 to 1942, when the Nazis imprisoned him in a concentration camp. Huizinga lived out his life in exile. His works in English include The Waning of the Middle Ages, Erasmus and the Age of Reformation, and Homo Ludens.