New Historicism

New Historicism (sometimes referred to as Cultural Poetics) emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, largely in reaction to the lingering effects of New Criticism and its ahistorical approach. “New” Historicism’s adjectival emphasis highlights its opposition to the old historical-biographical criticism prevalent before the advent of New Criticism. In the earlier historical-biographical criticism, literature was seen as a (mimetic) reflection of the historical world in which it was produced. Further, history was viewed as stable, linear, and recoverable–a narrative of fact. In contrast, New Historicism views history skeptically (historical narrative is inherently subjective), but also more broadly; history includes all of the cultural, social, political, anthropological discourses at work in any given age, and these various “texts” are unranked – any text may yield information valuable in understanding a particular milieu. Rather than forming a backdrop, the many discourses at work at any given time affect both an author and his/her text; both are inescapably part of a social construct. Stephen Greenblatt was an early important figure, and Michel Foucault’s (fou-KOH) intertextual methods focusing especially on issues such as power and knowledge proved very influential. Other major figures include Clifford Geertz, Louis Montrose, Catherine Gallagher, Jonathan Dollimore, and Jerome McCann

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Roisun Kubangcalingcing

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