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By field: art history - cultural history - history of fiction - mythology - secret history - social history - sexual revolution - history of subcultures - zeitgeist

image sourced http://azothgallery.com/images/zeitgeist_maier_17c.jpg [May 2005]

By events: Black Death - Industrial Revolution - print revolution - revolution - war

Related: historicism

Historical eras: Prehistory - Ancient history - Middle Ages - Modernity - postmodernity

Cultural and art eras: Baroque - Enlightenment - Gothic - Postmodernism - Renaissance - Romanticism - Modernism - Victorian era

1100s - 1200s - 1300s - 1400s - 1500s - 1600s - 1700s - 1800s - 1900s - 2000s

1800s - 1810s - 1820s - 1830s - 1840s - 1850s - 1860s - 1870s - 1880s - 1890s

1900s - 1910s - 1920s - 1930s - 1940s - 1950s - 1960s - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s

A biased timeline of history.

One Million Years B.C. (1967) - Don Chaffey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


History is often used as a generic term for information about the past, such as in "geologic history of the Earth." When used as the name of a field of study, history means human history, which is the recorded memory of past human societies.

The term history comes from the Greek historia, "an account of one's inquiries," and shares that etymology with the English word story. Some feminist scholars instead use the term herstory for the word history.

Historians use many types of sources, including written or printed records, interviews (oral history), and archaeology. Different approaches may be more common in some periods than others, and the study of history has its fads and fashions (see historiography and the history of history). The events that occurred prior to human records are known as prehistory.

Knowledge of history is often said to encompass both knowledge of past events and historical thinking skills. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History [Jul 2004]

Great man theory

The Great man theory is a theory held by some that aims to explains history by the impact of "Great men", ie: highly influential individuals, either from personal charisma, genius intellects, or great political impact.

For example, a scholarly follower of the Great Man theory would be likely to study the Second World War by focusing on the big personalities of the conflict, ie: Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, etc.

It is often linked to 19th century philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle, who commented that "The history of the world is but the biography of great men." This theory is usually contrasted with a theory that talks about events occurring in the fullness of time, or when an overwhelming wave of smaller events cause certain developments to occur.

Today the great man theory is out of favour. Most historians today believe that economic, societal, and technological factors are far more important to history than the decisions made by any individual.

This has spread to other fields such a literary criticism where the New Historicism of Stephen Greenblatt argues that societies create works of art, not just authors.

When this theory is applied to film theory, this theory tends to explain film history and the evolution of film almost exclusively in terms of "Great Men", with some notable directors. It however, neglects the efforts of crews, assistants and outside constraints. It could be described as the film history equivalent to the star system or the auteur theory. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_man_theory [May 2005]

Rise of Europe

The invention of the movable type printing press in 1450s Germany was awarded #1 of the Top 100 Greatest Events of the Millennium by LIFE Magazine. By some estimates, less than 50 years after the first Bible was printed in 1455, more than nine million books were in print.

From the 11th to the 15th centuries CE the Holy Roman Empire in Europe launched a series of crusades against Byzantine and Islamic lands in the eastern Mediterranean, most notably the Holy Lands in the area around Jerusalem. By the late 13th century the last of the crusader strongholds in the Middle East had fallen to the Muslims. After the final fall of the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire) to the Ottoman Turks, its scholars fled west to Rome, bringing renewed energy and interest in classical knowledge. Scholars consider the fall of the Byzantine Empire as a key event in ending the Middle Ages and starting the Renaissance because of the end of the old religious order in Europe and the use of cannon and gunpowder in the taking of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.

Through the renaissance and other factors, Europe began to have a technological edge on the rest of the world by 1500, and over the next few centuries, this trend began to accelerate. Advancing seafaring technology allowed Christopher Columbus in 1492 to penetrate across the Atlantic Ocean and bridge the gap from Africa-Eurasia to the Americas. This had dramatic effects on both continents. The Europeans brought with them diseases the Americans had never before encountered, and over 90% of them were killed in a series of devastating epidemics. The Europeans also had horses, steel, and guns that allowed them to overpower and slaughter the American people.

The Aztec and Incan empires were destroyed, as were many of the great cultures of North America. Gold and resources from the Americas began to be shipped to Europe, while at the same time large numbers of European colonists began to emigrate to the west. To meet the great demand for labour in the new colonies the mass export of Africans as slaves began. Soon much of the Americas had a large racial underclass of slaves. In West Africa, a series of thriving states developed along the coast, becoming prosperous from the exploitation of suffering central African peoples.

The Portuguese and Spanish Empires were at first the predominant conquerers and source of influence, but soon the more northern French, English, and Dutch began to dominate the Atlantic. In a series of wars fought in the 17th and 18th centuries, culminating with the Napoleonic Wars, Britain emerged as the most powerful nation in the world. It controlled an empire that spanned the globe, controlling, at its peak, approximately one-quarter of the world's land surface.

Meanwhile, the voyages of the admiral Zheng He were halted by China's Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), established after the expulsion of the Mongols. A commercial revolution, sometimes described as "incipient capitalism", was also abortive. The Ming Dynasty would eventually fall to the Manchus, whose Qing Dynasty oversaw, at first, a period of calm and prosperity, but would increasingly fall prey to Western encroachment.

Soon after the invasion of the Americas, Europeans had gained a technological advantage over the people of Asia as well. In the 19th century Britain gained control of the Indian subcontinent, Egypt and Malaya, the French took Indochina while the Dutch occupied Indonesia. The British also occupied several of the areas still populated by neolithic peoples including Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and as in the Americas large numbers of British colonists began to emigrate to these areas. In the late nineteenth century the last unclaimed areas of Africa were divided among the European powers.

This era also saw the renaissance and subsequent Age of Reason lead to the Scientific Revolution, which changed our understanding of the world and made possible the Industrial Revolution, a major transformation of the world’s economies. It began in Britain and used new modes of production such as the factory, mass production, and mechanisation to produce a wide array of materials faster and for less labour than previous methods. The Age of Reason also lead to the beginnings of democracy as we know it today, in the American and French revolutions in the late 1700s. Democracy would grow to have a profound effect on world events. During the industrial revolution, the world economy was soon based on coal, as new methods of transport such as railways and steam ships made the world a smaller place. Meanwhile, Industrial pollution and damage to the environment, present since the discovery of fire and the beginning of civilization, accelerated tenfold. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_world#Rise_of_Europe [Jun 2005]

Twentieth century [...]

The twentieth century saw the domination of the world by Europe wane, as least partially from the internal destruction of World War II, and the United States and the Soviet Union rise as superpowers. Following World war II, the United Nations was founded in the hopes that it could prevent conflicts between nations and make future wars impossible. After 1990 the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States became the sole superpower, termed by some a hyperpower. See Pax Americana

The century saw the rise of powerful ideologies. First with communism in the Soviet Union after 1917, which spread to Eastern Europe after 1945, and China in 1949, and scattered other nations in the Third World during the 1950s and 1960s. The 1920s saw militaristic fascist dictatorships gain control of Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain.

These transitions were evinced through wars of unparalleled scope and devastation. The First World War destroyed many of Europe's old monarchies, and weakened France and Britain. The Second World War saw most of the militaristic dictatorships in Europe destroyed and saw communism advance into Eastern Europe and Asia. This led to the Cold War, a forty-year stand-off between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and theirs. All of humanity and complex forms of life were put into jeopardy by the development of nuclear weapons. After out-spending the Soviet Union on weaponry, the US saw a collapse in the Soviet state, with fragmentation of the former republics, some re-joining Russia in a commonwealth, others reaching out toward Western Europe.

The same century saw vast progress in technology, and a large increase in life expectancy and standard of living for the majority of humanity. As the world economy switched from one based upon coal to one based on oil, new communications and transportation technologies continued to make the world more united. The technological developments of the century also contributed to problems with the environment, though city pollution is lower today than in the days of coal.

The latter half of the century saw the rise of the information age and globalization: dramatically increased trade and cultural exchange. Space exploration reached throughout the solar system. The number of scientific papers published each year today far surpasses the number published prior to 1900,[1] and doubles approximately every 15 years. [2] Global literacy rates continue to increase, and the percentage of the global society's labour pool needed to produce the society's food has continued to decrease substantially over the century.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Age_of_Spiritual_Machines) --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_world#Twentieth_century [Jun 2005]

Periodization [...]

Periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide historical time into discrete named blocks.


The Gothic and the Baroque were both named during subsequent stylistic periods when the preceding style was unpopular. The word 'Gothic' was applied as a pejorative term to all things Northern European and, hence, barbarian, probably first in the generation of Francois Rabelais. The word 'baroque' (probably) was used first in late 18th century French about the irregular natural pearl shape and later about an architectural style perceived to be 'irregular' in comparison to the highly regular Neoclassical architecture of that time. Subsequently these terms have become purely descriptive, and have largely lost negative connotations. However the term 'Baroque' as applied to art (for example Rubens) refers to a much earlier historical period than when applied to music (Handel, Bach). This reflects the difference between stylistic histories internal to an art form and the external chronological history beyond it. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodization [Dec 2004]

History of literature in 90 people (400BC - 2004) [...]

From Aristophanes to Bret Easton Ellis, click the next buttons to see the presentation.

History of film in 40 directors (1899 - 2004) [...]

From Edison to P.T. Anderson, click the next buttons to see the presentation.

History of the visual arts in 80 people (1500s - 2004) [...]

From Bosch to David LaChapelle, click the next buttons to see the presentation.

History of modern music in 40 people (1800s - 2004) [...]

From Brahms to Kenny Dixon Jr., click the next buttons to see the presentation.

Art History [...]

Modern art was introduced to America during World War I when a number of the artists in the Montmartre and Montparnasse Quarters of Paris, France fled the War. Francis Picabia (1879–1953), was responsible for bringing Modern Art to New York City. It was only after World War II, though, that the USA became the focal point of new artistic movements. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_art [Aug 2004]

Prehistory [...]

Before Christ [...]

Film History [...]

A history of the industry known as cinema.

By Century

By Decade

By Year

[ 1860 - 1861 - 1862 - 1863 - 1864 - 1865 - 1866 - 1867 - 1868 - 1869 ]
[ 1870 - 1871 - 1872 - 1873 - 1874 - 1875 - 1876 - 1877 - 1878 - 1879 ]
[ 1880 - 1881 - 1882 - 1883 - 1884 - 1885 - 1886 - 1887 - 1888 - 1889 ]
[ 1890 - 1891 - 1892 - 1893 - 1894 - 1895 - 1896 - 1897 - 1898 - 1899 ]

[ 1900 - 1901 - 1902 - 1903 - 1904 - 1905 - 1906 - 1907 - 1908 - 1909 ]
1910 - 1911 - 1912 - 1913 - 1914 - 1915 - 1916 - 1917 - 1918 - 1919
[ 1920 - 1921 - 1922 - 1923 - 1924 - 1925 - 1926 - 1927 - 1928 - 1929 ]
[ 1930 - 1931 - 1932 - 1933 - 1934 - 1935 - 1936 - 1937 - 1938 - 1939 ]
[ 1940 - 1941 - 1942 - 1943 - 1944 - 1945 - 1946 - 1947 - 1948 - 1949 -
[ 1950 - 1951 - 1952 - 1953 - 1954 - 1955 - 1956 - 1957 - 1958 - 1959 ]
[ 1960 - 1961 - 1962 - 1963 - 1964 - 1965 - 1966 - 1967 - 1968 - 1969 ]
[ 1970 - 1971 - 1972 - 1973 - 1974 - 1975 - 1976 - 1977 - 1978 - 1979 ]
[ 1980 - 1981 - 1982 - 1983 - 1984 - 1985 - 1986 - 1987 - 1988 - 1989 ]
[ 1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999 ]
[ 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 ]

Modern music [...]

If modern music may be said to have a definite beginning, then it started with this flute melody, the opening of the Prélude à "L'après-midi d'un faune"(1894) by Claude Debussy (1862-1918). -- Paul Griffiths [...] [...]


A classic is a work of acknowledged excellence and authority, or its author; -- originally used of Greek and Latin works or authors, but now applied to authors and works of a like character in any language and medium. For example, one speaks of classical music and of classic house music [...]

The energy of music

You know how every 5 years an energy goes to a different place in music? It doesn't mean that rock `n' roll isn't happening or it's not continually going on but there's a different focus. Sometimes it's in avant garde music, sometimes it's in jazz, sometimes it's in rock. Right now it's in all of these incredible varieties of techno music and all the sub-sections like jungle and new electronica. - Rhys Chatham

A history of horror [...]

Where are the roots of the horror genre? How far back can we trace the figures of the vampire, the werewolf and Frankenstein's monster? What of the Gothic novel, and how did the horror of distant castles transform into that of school camps and shopping malls? Who were the visionaries, and what horrible things happened to them? Have people always been scared of the same things? This timeline shows the stepping stones along the path from the Inquisition to the Blair Witch, from Dante's Inferno to Hellraiser. Eight centuries of great works, and the events and people behind them. Check the definite site on horror: Tabula Rasa by David Carroll and Kyla Ward --http://www.tabula-rasa.info/DarkAges


A tradition is a story or a custom that is memorized and passed down from generation to generation, originally without the need for a writing system. Tools to aid this process include poetic devices such as rhyme and alliteration. The stories thus preserved are also referred to as tradition, or as part of an oral tradition. For example, it is now a tradition to have a Christmas tree to celebrate Christmas.

Although traditions are often presumed to be ancient, unalterable, and deeply important, they are often much less "natural" than is often presumed. Many traditions have been deliberately invented for one reason or another, often to highlight or enhance the importance of a certain institution. Traditions are also frequently changed to suit the needs of the day, and the changes quickly become accepted as a part of the ancient tradition. A famous book on the subject is The Invention of Tradition, edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terrence Ranger.

Some examples include "the invention of tradition" in African and other colonial holdings by the occupying forces. Requiring legitimacy, the colonial power would often invent a "tradition" which they could use to legitimize their own position. For example, a certain succession to a chiefdom might be recognized by a colonial power as traditional in order to favour their own favourite candidates for the job. Often these inventions were based in some form of tradition, but were grossly exaggerated, distorted, or biased toward a particular interpretation.

Other traditions that have been altered through the years include various religious celebrations, for example Christmas. The actual date of Jesus' birth does not coincide with December 25 as in the Western Church. This was a convenient day for it to be held on so as to capitalize on the popularity of traditional solstice celebrations. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradition [Apr 2005]

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life - Jacques Barzun

  • From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life - Jacques Barzun [Amazon.com]
    In the last half-millennium, as the noted cultural critic and historian Jacques Barzun observes, great revolutions have swept the Western world. Each has brought profound change--for instance, the remaking of the commercial and social worlds wrought by the rise of Protestantism and by the decline of hereditary monarchies. And each, Barzun hints, is too little studied or appreciated today, in a time he does not hesitate to label as decadent. --Gregory McNamee [...]

    The Idea of Decline in Western History - Arthur Herman

  • The Idea of Decline in Western History - Arthur Herman [Amazon.com]
    In this ambitious and eminently relevant work of popular intellectual history, Arthur Herman, the coordinator of the Western civilization program at the Smithsonian Institution, makes a broad survey of the literature of cultural decline and a scatter-shot retort to the purveyors of doom and gloom. Herman attempts to right the balance unset by panicky prognosticators who either decry the defeat of Western values or herald the bankruptcy of Enlightenment idealism, despite the unparalleled worldwide ascendance of market economics, universal human rights, and representational, constitutional government. Herman is at his best when making erudite replies to today's ill-informed peddlers of doom and gloom. But when he starts attempting to trace the history of "declinism," to philosophers from Frederick Neitzche to Martin Heidegger, and writers from Henry Adams to Robert Bly, his accusations often fall wide of the intended mark. His assaults on Jean Jacques Rousseau and W.E.B. DuBois will appear particularly unfair to those familiar with the works of these men, though readers who trust in Herman's abbreviated accounts of their thinking will be unknowingly misled. The "Great Ideas" framework Herman defends in the pages of this book ought to prize the close reading of important texts as much as it seeks to protect a sacrosanct canon or a static notion of prized ideals. Great ideas after all stand up to close attention. Herman's book conveys a confidence in the values of the Western tradition, but in making its argument, it inspires a casual disrespect from the works of other arguably great thinkers and artists based on Herman's swift survey--a dubious achievement and troublesome side effect of this challenging book. --amazon.com editorial

    More books

  • Greil Marcus - Lipstick Traces, a Secret History of 20th Century [Amazon.com]
    ... In the 1989 ‘Lipstick Traces - A Secret History of the Twentieth Century’ Greil Marcus traces a subliminal trajectory where nearly-invisible connections arc across punk, the Situationists of 1968, Dada in 1916, the Enrages of the French Revolution and heretical millenarianism in medieval times. He isn’t describing the direct causal link of past and present but suggesting a more opaque entanglement. “Is history simply a matter of events that leave behind those things that can be weighed and measured - new institutions, new maps, new rulers - or is it also the result of moments that seem to leave nothing behind, nothing but the mystery of spectral connections between people long separated by place and time, but somehow speaking the same language?....If the language they are speaking, the impulse they are voicing, has it’s own history, might it not tell a very different story from the one we’ve been hearing all our lives?”

  • An Underground Education (1999) - Richard Zacks [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    An Underground Education : The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Knowledge

    Forget the history you were taught in school; Richard Zacks's version is crueler and funnier than anything you might have learned in seventh-grade civics--and much more of a gross-out, too. Described on the book jacket as an "autodidact extraordinaire," Zacks is also the author of History Laid Bare, making him something of an expert guide through history's back alleys and side streets. There's no fact too seamy or perverse for Zacks to drag out into the light of day, from matters scatological and sexual to some of history's most truly bizarre episodes. Curious about ancient nose-blowing etiquette? What about the sexual proclivities of Catherine the Great? Throughout chapters such as "The Evolution of Underwear" and "Dentistry Before Novocaine," Zacks proves a tireless debunker of popular myths as well as a muckraker par excellence.--Amazon.com

    Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) - Richard Davenport

    Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) - Richard Davenport[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    SIPs: rococo gothic, gothic film, gothic imagination, gothic aesthetics, gothic imagery (more on SIPs)

    From Publishers Weekly
    Though separated by time, place and vocation, Neapolitan landscape painter Salvator Rosa, English novelist Mary Shelley and American filmmaker David Lynch all belong to the same exclusive club. So argues Davenport-Hines (Auden), often persuasively, in his sweeping examination of modern Western culture's fascination with the dark side. Davenport-Hines holds that a coherent antirationalist tradition can be traced through the work of figures as diverse as Francisco Goya, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Byron, Theodor Adorno and 1980s rock singer Robert Smith of the Cure.

    He deftly situates the gothic broadly defined here as a nonconformist sensibility marked by a morbid fascination with death, decay and the uncanny.

    In a history that includes the barbarian invasions of Rome and the nature-defying hubris of medieval European architecture. Of course celebrated gothic novelists such as Ann Radcliffe, Matthew "Monk" Lewis and Horace Walpole receive treatment, but more interesting is the author's identification of gothic elements in the work of artists seldom placed in the gloom-and-doom tradition, such as Alexander Pope's carefully planned, and to the 20th-century eye almost kitschy, gardens.

    The book's efforts to make spiritual confreres of figures as apparently unrelated as Pope and Ian Curtis, the suicidal frontman of gloomy rock group Joy Division, accounts for much of its appeal. And, indeed, the clear delight Davenport-Hines takes in making bedfellows of poets and pop stars, philosophers and splatterpunks, indicates his own penchant for the bizarre and subversive. Although his definition of the gothic becomes at times too elastic, this richly illustrated survey is no less enjoyable and informative for its author's ambition. (June)
    Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    From Library Journal
    The enduring interest in Gothic and macabre images and stories has drawn the attention of contemporary scholars and critics. Departing from recent volumes that analyze the Gothic in contemporary culture and arts, British critic Davenport-Hines (Auden, Pantheon, 1996) has produced a comprehensive survey of Gothic themes in art, architecture, literature, and film since the early 17th century.

    Arranged in a sometimes disjointed combination of historic and thematic exposition, the book traces the Gothic imagination: its roots, the 18th-century "Gothic revival," the 19th-century classics (such as Frankenstein and Dracula) that epitomize the genre, the American Gothic, and manifestations of the Gothic in popular culture and film. The level of detail is sometimes excessive, and some chapters seem to lose their focus, but overall, this work provides an informed and readable survey of the genre. Unfortunately, the notes are difficult to use, and the in-text citations are not always clear or explicit. For larger public libraries.AJulia Burch, Cambridge, MA
    Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. --via Amazon.com

    see also: gothic - excess - horror - evil

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