I have a question for the academics out there: if someone, perhaps someone outside academia, what two books what you recommend that would give them a sense of what people in your field do and that explains what you study?

My answer below the fold.

Johann Huizinga’s Autumn of the Middle Ages (because it deals with definitions of civilization, periodization and national identity, and because it poses an interesting question about what makes modern art) and Alon Confino The Nation as a Local Metaphor (how relgional history and culture were integreated into national history.)