Following Clifford Geertz and other cultural anthropologists, the New Historicist critics have evolved a method for describing culture in action. Their "thick descriptions" seize upon an event or anecdote--colonist John Rolfe's conversation with Pocohontas's father, a note found among Nietzsche's papers to the effect that "I have lost my umbrella"--and re-read it to reveal through the analysis of tiny particulars the motive forces controlling a whole society. Contributors: Stephen J. Greenblatt, Louis A. Montrose, Catherine Gallagher, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Gerald Graff, Jean Franco, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Frank Lentricchia, Vincent Pecora, Jane Marcus, Jon Klancher, Jonathan Arac, Hayden White, Stanley Fish, Judith Newton, Joel Fineman, John Schaffer, Richard Terdiman, Donald Pease, Brooks Thomas.
Brook Thomas explores the new historicism and the challenges posed to it by a postmodern world that questions the very possibility of newness. He considers new historicism's engagement with poststructuralism and locates the former within a tradition of pragmatic historiography in the United States.
Seminar paper from the year 2011 in the subject Literature - Comparative Literature, grade: 1,0, University of Constance, course: Kulturkontakte: Theorien in den Geschichts- und Literaturwissenschaften, language: English, abstract: By the 1990s, New Historicism and its main progenitor Stephen Greenblatt rose to the attention of scholars worldwide, and it is now a widely accepted theory. If one can speak of a theory, since New Historicism has often been accused of lacking a distinct theoretical program. However, this did not remain the sole critical reproach New Historicism had to deal with. As with many a radically new idea, the approach provoked discontent as well. Inaccuracy and “armchair historicism” were among the accusations New Historicism had to cope with. Nevertheless, its popularity increased, and it is well nigh impossible to imagine literary studies today without it. Despite its importance and popularity, the New Historicism has to this day successfully refused to be thoroughly theorized and classified, to be forced into a strict set of rules. It therefore remains a difficult task to label anything truly “New Historicist”, as even New Historicists themselves are reluctant to give a subsumable definition of the concept.The principal question of this thesis: Is New Historicism a viable theory after all? Despite the international acclaim it has earned, does it keep its promises? Has it revolutionized modern literary studies?
Moments of Negotiation offers the first book-length and indepth analysis of the New Historicist reading method, which the American Shakespeare-scholar Stephen Greenblatt introduced at the beginning of the 1980s. Ever since, Greenblatt has been hailed as the prime representative of this movement, whose critical acclaim has been one of the dominant trends in recent literary and cultural studies. In this new book, Jürgen Pieters attempts to fill a remarkable lacuna in the critical reception of Greenblatt's work. The book's aim is to provide a thorough analysis of the theoretical background of Greenblatt's method. This involves not only a close reading of Greenblatt's sources—the book offers introductory surveys of the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Pierre Macherey, Michel de Certeau, Jean-François Lyotard, Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall—but also a critique of the way in which he adapts and transforms their original insights in the framework of his own interdisciplinary method. This book is of interest to students and scholars coming from a diverse range of fields: literary theory, cultural history, early modern studies, Shakespeare studies,theory and practice of history.
New Historicism has been one of the major developments in literary theory over the last decade, both in the USA and Europe. In this book, Wilson and Dutton examine the theories behind New Historicism and its celebrated impact in practice on Renaissance Drama, providing an important collection both for students of the genre and of literary theory.
In the thirty years since the publication of Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning overthrew traditional modes of Shakespeare criticism, New Historicism and Cultural Materialism have rapidly become the dominant modes for studying and writing about the Bard. This comprehensive guide introduces students to the key writers, texts and ideas of contemporary Shakespeare criticism and alternatives to new historicist and cultural materialist approaches suggested by a range of dissenters including evolutionary critics, historical formalists and advocates of 'the new aestheticism', and the more politically active presentists. Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory covers such topics as: The key theoretical influences on new historicism including Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser. The major critics, from Stephen Greenblatt to Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield. Dissenting views from traditional critics and contemporary theorists. Chapter summaries and questions for discussion throughout encourage students to critically engage with contemporary Shakespeare theory for themselves. The book includes a 'Who's Who' of major critics, a timeline of key publications and a glossary of essential critical terms to give students and teachers easy access to essential information.
For almost twenty years, new historicism has been a highly controversial and influential force in literary and cultural studies. In Practicing the New Historicism, two of its most distinguished practitioners reflect on its surprisingly disparate sources and far-reaching effects. In lucid and jargon-free prose, Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt focus on five central aspects of new historicism: recurrent use of anecdotes, preoccupation with the nature of representations, fascination with the history of the body, sharp focus on neglected details, and skeptical analysis of ideology. Arguing that new historicism has always been more a passionately engaged practice of questioning and analysis than an abstract theory, Gallagher and Greenblatt demonstrate this practice in a series of characteristically dazzling readings of works ranging from paintings by Joos van Gent and Paolo Uccello to Hamlet and Great Expectations. By juxtaposing analyses of Renaissance and nineteenth-century topics, the authors uncover a number of unexpected contrasts and connections between the two periods. Are aspects of the dispute over the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist detectable in British political economists' hostility to the potato? How does Pip's isolation in Great Expectations shed light on Hamlet's doubt? Offering not only an insider's view of new historicism, but also a lively dialogue between a Renaissance scholar and a Victorianist, Practicing the New Historicism is an illuminating and unpredictable performance by two of America's most respected literary scholars. "Gallagher and Greenblatt offer a brilliant introduction to new historicism. In their hands, difficult ideas become coherent and accessible."—Choice "A tour de force of new literary criticism. . . . Gallagher and Greenblatt's virtuoso readings of paintings, potatoes (yes, spuds), religious ritual, and novels—all 'texts'—as well as essays on criticism and the significance of anecdotes, are likely to take their place as model examples of the qualities of the new critical school that they lead. . . . A zesty work for those already initiated into the incestuous world of contemporary literary criticism-and for those who might like to see what all the fuss is about."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"The New Historicism" tackles the implications of historicism for biblical studies. The author navigates through the maze of new methods for biblical studies to develop a position that accommodates new, postmodern approaches without vitiating the quest for historical knowledge.
Over the past three decades, no critical movement has been more prominent in Shakespeare Studies than new historicism. And yet, it remains notoriously difficult to pin down, define and explain, let alone analyze. Shakespeare and New Historicist Theory provides a comprehensive scholarly analysis of new historicism as a development in Shakespeare studies while asking fundamental questions about its status as literary theory and its continued usefulness as a method of approaching Shakespeare's plays.
Why is histricism a problem? Why do we need a new historicism? This text considers these questions and aims to show that the problem of historicism, and new historicism, is more than just a problem of knowledge-validity and that new historicism is not so much an answer to the difficulties of history writing but the opening of new questions.
The New Historicism Reader documents the New Historicists' multiplex achievement, spanning Renaissance and Reagan studies, American realism, English romanticism, gender studies, feminism, and communications and rhetoric. Harold Veeser's introduction locates allies and opponents, surveys related fields, and identifies now-emerging New Historicist themes: the go-between, hybridization, embarrassment, autobiographical moves and personal writing. His selected bibliography gives access to a wealth of literature devoted to theorizing and attacking New Historicism, a phrase that--if it lacks a referent--has no want of references. In short, The New Historicism Reader offers everything required to know, teach and practice the New Historicism.
Assessing major critics from Vernon Parrington to Murray Krieger, Wesley Morris points the way to a "new historicism." He outlines traditional historicist interests in American literary theory and draws from them the foundation for a vital new study of literature. As Mr. Morris shows, however, the new historicism moves beyond—necessarily using the most recent developments in linguistics, anthropology, psychoanalysis, the psychology of perception and literary response—to see the aesthetic relationship between the work and its context. Originally published in 1972. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
Seminar paper from the year 2000 in the subject German Studies - Modern German Literature, grade: A-, University of Connecticut (German), language: English, abstract: Texts do not come out of the blue. This could be the motto of those literary theorists that apply the method of the "new historicism," a procedure for interpreting texts that has become popular in the 1980s. New historicism aims at revealing power relations that are reflected but hidden in texts. Alll texts are considered products of specific historical conditions and therefore imbued with cultural, social and political elements. Such a complex dialogue between text and history can be clearly seen in Deutschland. A Winter's Tale by Heinrich Heine. His motto, when he was writing the travel story in 1844, could have been: dreams do not come out of the blue either. One may wonder why the four dreams, which make up a comparatively small part of the whole text, are of such importance. From the point of view of a new historicist, however, all texts sorts should be regarded equal and inter-dependent. Accepting the historicity of all texts, new historicists work with sources from a variety of disciplines and discourses for the analysis of a piece of literature. Furthermore, this approach even justifies an application of discourses that have come into existence before or after the work in question - as long as they can contribute to its interpretation and evaluation. For the interpretation of the dreams in Heine's Deutschland. A Winter's Tale I will make use of this methodological advantage and apply various sources that range from ancient times up to the 20th century.
Seminar paper from the year 2014 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1.3, Technical University of Chemnitz, language: English, abstract: The power that makes us handle ourselves and others around us is something we do not even notice, but that is central to all our lives. While actual physical violence is far away for many of us, nobody can deny how society has a certain rule over each of us. We have expectations towards others and ourselves that are central for the way we think and behave. Cultural values do not only shape our daily lives but also every text that is written. These texts on the other hand have the power to influence our values and believe on what is wrong and right. Because I am very interested in this topic and also how texts form our picture of the world I chose to write about New Historicism. New Historicism is a literary theory that, in my opinion, everybody can understand and relate to. A central idea is how every text shows signs of the time and the society it is produced in. A logical consequence, since the author is never free of perceptions of his time and never subjective. On the other hand a text, read by many people, can easily influence their opinions and believes. For example the texts written about Queen Elisabeth contributed to her image of the Virgin Queen. These ideas, bought up as literary theory in New Historicism, are important until today. While books and theater plays might not be as important for many of us we are influenced, not only by television, but also by newspapers and articles we read. Our “self” is still created through the society we live in.
Seminar paper from the year 2005 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, University of Cologne (English Department), course: ES II The Wonderful World of Literary Theory, 49 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: I don’t want to “improvise on the metaphor Deleuze used to describe the way he made use of fellow philosophers (though he usually made use of them in quite a gentle manner) to come across with his own ideas. I rather like to think of such theorists as Nietzsche, Foucault, or Greenblatt in a more detached manner as atomic particles that hardly ever meet, but sometimes do, and when they crash make something emerge that may be new and may be not. I’d like to take some of that enthusiastic energy Greenblatt felt when first he met Foucault and heard him lecture and let this paper run on it. I will follow that ‘thread’ of power that in a way puts Nietzsche, Foucault, and Greenblatt in touch in order to figure out whether there is anything new about new historicism’s concept of power as compared to that of Nietzsche and Foucault. In the following a brief outline will be given of how Nietzsche employs power to understand how the cosmos works. Then I shall describe Foucault’s understanding of how power relations condition society, government, discourse, and the way we look at things. Afterwards I shall discuss new historicism’s concept of power, focussing on the consequences this concept of power has for the understanding of the relation between society and works of art and for the interpretation of literary and historical texts. In the end there will be a short outlook on what could be an answer to the question of whether there is anything new about new historicism’s concept of power.
New Historicism and Cultural Materialism have become two of the most powerful and appealing movements in modern criticism. Their conquest of Renaissance studies has escalated into global colonization of English and American literary history. A wealth of innovative work has emerged on everything from the "Canterbury Tales" to the "Cantos," bringing intense theoretical controversy in its wake. This Reader pulls the diversity and polemical vigor of this new critical constellation into focusfor the first time.
Located at the intersection of new historicism and the 'new formalism', historical formalism is one of the most rapidly growing and important movements in early modern studies: taking seriously the theoretical issues raised by both history and form, it challenges the anti-formalist orthodoxies of new historicism and expands the scope of historicist criticism. Shakespeare and Historical Formalism is the first volume devoted exclusively to collecting and assessing work of this kind. With essays on a broad range of Shakespeare's works and engaging topics from performance theory to the emergence of 'the literary' and from historiography to pedagogy, the volume demonstrates the value of historical formalism for Shakespeare studies and for literary criticism as a whole. Shakespeare and Historical Formalism begins with an introduction that describes the nature and potential of historical formalism and traces its roots in early modern literary theory and its troubled relationship with new historicism. The volume is then divided into two sections corresponding to the two chief objectives of historical formalism: a historically informed and politically astute formalism, and a historicist criticism revitalized by attention to issues of form. The first section, 'Historicizing Form', explores from a variety of perspectives the historical and political sources, meanings and functions of Shakespeare's dramatic forms. The second section, 'Re-Forming History', uses questions of form to rethink our understanding of historicism and of history itself, and in doing so challenges some of our fundamental literary-critical, pedagogical and epistemological assumptions. Concluding with suggestions for further reading on historical formalism and related work, Shakespeare and Historical Formalism invites scholars to rethink the familiar categories and principles of formal and historical criticism.