Book Review

The polymath: a cultural history from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag

Citation

Williams KJ (2021) The polymath: a cultural history from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag. Review of: Peter Burke, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2020, 327 pp., ISBN 9780300250022. Cultural and Social History, 18 (4), pp. 585-586. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780038.2021.1913339

Abstract
First paragraph: Peter Burke continues to address wide-ranging issues in the history of knowledge in his latest book, beginning with the bold starting point that ‘[o]ne of the principal aims of this study is to describe some intellectual and social trends and so to answer general questions about forms of social organization and climates of opinion that are favourable or unfavourable to polymathic endeavours’ (p. 4). This programme takes the form of a history of the polymath in western culture from the Renaissance to the twenty–first century, organised chronologically and underpinned by a prosopography of five hundred individuals deemed sufficiently polymathic by Burke for inclusion in his study (the prosopography itself forms a substantial appendix to this volume).

Journal
Cultural and Social History: Volume 18, Issue 4

StatusPublished
Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online30/04/2021
Date accepted by journal10/04/2021
ISSN1478-0038
eISSN1478-0046
Item discussedPeter Burke, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2020, 327 pp., ISBN 9780300250022