Stephen Greenblatt and New Historicism

While he was teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, Greenblatt helped to found a journal called Representations, in which some of the earlier important New Historicist criticism appeared. As mentioned earlier, however, it was his introduction to The Power of Forms in the English Renaissance (1982) that spurred the growth of the New Historicism.… Read More Stephen Greenblatt and New Historicism

New Historicism and Cultural Materialism

A term coined by Raymond Williams and popularised by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield (in their collection of essays Political Shakespeare), Cultural Materialism refers to a Marxist orientation of New Historicism, characterised by the analysis of any historical material within a politicized framework, in a radical and subversive manner. Cultural Materialism emphasises studying the historical… Read More New Historicism and Cultural Materialism

Foucault’s Influence on New Historicism

The anti-establishment ethos of New Historicism wasprofoundly influenced by Foucault‘s theories of Power/Knowledge and Discourse. Foucault observed that the discourse of an era brings into being concepts, oppositions and hierarchies, which are products and propagators of power, and these determine what is “knowledge”, “truth” and “normal” at a given time. Drawing on Jeremy Bentham‘s notion… Read More Foucault’s Influence on New Historicism

New Historicism’s Deviation from Old Historicism

New Historicism envisages and practises a mode of study where the literary text and the non-literary cotext are given “equal weighting”, whereas old historicism considers history as a “background” of facts to the “foreground” of literature. While Old historicism follows a hierarchical approach by creating a historical framework and placing the literary text within it,… Read More New Historicism’s Deviation from Old Historicism

The Concept of Self-Fashioning by Stephen Greenblatt

  Stephen Greenblatt, in his Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (1980) studies the sixteenth-century life and literature that spawned a new era of scholarly inquiry. Greenblatt examined the structure of selfhood as evidenced in major literary figures of the English Renaissance (More, Tyndale, Wyatt, Spenser, Marlowe, and Shakespeare) and observed that in the early… Read More The Concept of Self-Fashioning by Stephen Greenblatt

The Textuality of History and the Historicity of Texts

Louis Montrose, in Professing the Renaissance: The Poetics and Politics of Culture claimed that New Historicism deals with the “textuality of history and the historicity of texts.” While “historicity of texts”refers to the “cultural specificity and social embedment of all modes of writing”, the rootedness of a text in the social-historical, political and cultural ambiance… Read More The Textuality of History and the Historicity of Texts