different definitions of history: Two meanings of the word "history": (Selden
to New Historicism: New Historicists "try to establish
the interconnections between the literature and the general culture of
a period" (Selden 188).
"The events of the past."
"Telling a story about the events of the past."
III. New Historicism
and other critical trends:
New Historicism began in the early 1980s. "¡Kits proponents oppose
to the formalism they attribute both to the New Criticism and to the critical
deconstruction" (Abrams 248).
The difference from old historical study: New Historicists do not take
history as a background for a literary text at a particular time and place,
but they only parallel the history and text in social, cultural, and political
Modern Study": Roland Barthes (Marcus 51): "[I]nterdisciplinary
work is not a peaceful operation: it begin effectively when the solidarity
of the old disciplines breaks down" (Marcus 42).
New Criticism: "Contextual Reading" (Martin
The anatomy of text: "The text's meaning only exists in the text itself"
(Buck's outline 1).
The form of text: "The text's meaning is not explored by questions of author's
biography, but by questions of 'verbal structure' in the text" (Buck's
outline 1). "[L]iterary 'meaning' is sometimes a product of a text's interaction
with non-verbal media" (Martin 152).
How does the interaction work/function?
Is there any different effect created in two forms of art? Eg. Painting
"The text is a unity. "It is necessary to understand all the information
within the text" (Buck's outline 2).
Questions to New Criticism vs. New Historicism:
Fictional and documentary:
Eg. Narrative films can be documentary films. (Just name it).
Eg. Documentary films can be fictional stories. (Discovery).
Text ¡rHistory vs. Text // History (Text
Literary work vs. documents¢wletters, pamphlets,
newspapers, essays, etc.
What is the main body between text and history of a text?
What is the ancillary?
What's the principle/value for judging?
The presentation and representation of history: Between belief and disbelief:
The authenticity of history and the authentic history.
What's the reality?
The pure history:
Is literature truer and more faithful to history?
Or is documentation truer and faithful to history?
Is documentation always true?
Eg. John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman. (Charles Darwin
and Karl Marx).
Eg. Brian's presentation of his thesis¢wAnne
Literary scholars vs. historians:
What are you looking for when you do a "historical reading"?
Can you tell your position and purpose any different from historians?
What do you say a text historical, a-historic, and "of a merely historical
interest"? (Martin 151)
Post-structuralism: Writing history: Ideological
discourses: "Human experience is shaped by social institutions and specifically
by ideological discourses" (Selden 189).
Louis Althusser: "Ideology": "Ideology as a body of discursive practices"
Michel Foucault: "Discourse of knowledge": "Discourses are always rooted
in social institutions" (Selden 189).
V. Historical Studies:
Traditional Renaissance Study: The importance
of historical documents/materials: "[A]s it has been traditionally practiced,
open itself out toward the past in numerous other ways as well: it is concerned
with questions of origin, [and] influence¡K." (Marcus 42).
Renaissance humanism: "Self-fashioning" (Marcus 45).
Naissance and Re-naissance: From disrupting and defamiliarizing to re-dicovering
New Significance of Renaissance Study: "To
look at the Renaissance through a lens called early modern is to see the
concerns of modernism and postmodernism in embryo¢walienation,
a disjunction from origins, profound skepticism about the possibility for
objectivity ¡K an emphasis on textual indeterminacy as opposed to
textual closure and stability, and an interest in intertextuality instead
of filiation" (Marcus 43).
Interpreting canon of authorship: "The Death
of Author": Foucault's "What Is an Author?": "¡K'the author' is not
a transhistorical category but a cultural construct associated with the
beginnings of authorial accountability and censorship in the early modern
era" (Marcus 46).
Woman's writing (Marcus 46-7).
Non-serious writing: pamphlets, romances, ballads, popular drama, etc (Marcus
Re-evaluation of big names: Shakespeare and Milton (Marcus 48-9).
"Author's intent" and the "sociology of texts" by D. F. McKenzie (Marcus
"They [postmodernists] might attack the assumption that there is such a
thing as critical or historical transparency: all interpretation is generated
at least as much by the culture that has produced the critic as by the
culture under scrutiny" (Marcus 50).
"[P]ostmodernists (or late modernists) might assert that recent emphasis
on nonauthroial forms of authorship allows us not less but more access
to a culture in which such forms were just beginning to develop" (Marcus
Different readings on Renaissance /early modern studies:
Roland Barthes: Between text and work: "to explore forms of textual instability
related to modes of textual production specific to the period" (Marcus
Doconstructive reading: "Doubtfulness of words" in the age's own obsession
with language theory and rhetoric document (Marcus 51).
The crisis of "original": "What have been
the cultural assumptions behind our 'standard editions' of the canonical
authors?" (Marcus 52)
Manuscript study: "[E]ditors produced standard editions of the major authors¡K."
Textual study: "[S]cholars accepted these editions as reliable and used
them to generate interpretation" (Marcus 53).
The significance of the variations of critical and scholarly editions:
"¡Kthere is an increasing sense of strain between the acknowledgement
of variability and the desire to reconstruct a reliable authorial text
¡K [and we can expect] new scholarly editions [for] an erosion of
the traditional editorial task of creating a single authoritative text
and an increasing interest in variant versions of a text and the ways in
which the variations are significant" (Marcus 54).
Hypertext: "¡Kmore versions of a given passage in parallel on the
screen, for ranging easily through several layers of editorial notes of
different degrees of complexity¡K" (Marcus 55).
The shift for Renaissance/early modern studies: SELF
Technology: "Cosmic web" : "[T]he relations between science and literature
will have to be massively reconceptualized and rewritten as we recognize
the rich spectrum of scientific activities during the period and learn
to think beyond our own inherited, linear models of scientific progress"
"Scenes of writing" (Marcus 55-6): With other critical trends: Modernism,
Postmodernism, T.S. Eliot, New Criticism, Psychoanalysis, feminist
readings, women's reading and writing, Reader-response, Anthropology,
The Connection between New Historicism and Renaissance
study --Anthropology: (Marcus 59-61)
"Hermeneutic circle of interpretation"
"Colonialism": "The goal of our quest to explore and map new worlds out
of the past is intellectual simulation¡K" (Marcus 61).
Between authors and readers: "Different patterns
of life" (Martine 155): The common concern for Jerome McGann (contextual
reading) and Stephen Greenblatt (political reading): "[A] historical reading
of the texts, what their meaning and value were for their first readers
and audiences, the ways in which they were actively made use of or ¡K
the ways in which they were consumed" (Martin 153-54).
Tradition and biographical study: "To take
them 'on their own', to abstract them from their initial socio-cultural
materiality, is to indulge in anachronistic misreading" (Martin 154).
The interpretation and misreading of historicity:
Function of historical study: The difference between
McGann and Greenblatt
Commonality of reality
What new historicists
McGann: Presenting text itself as presenting a historical event.
Greenblatt: Between text and context: "The texts are ¡K their own
evidence but always along with other evidence" (Martin 153). Greenblatt's
problem: the difference from cultural anthropology.
They juxtapose literary and non-literary texts, reading the former in the
light of the latter.
They try thereby to "defamiliarise" the canonical literary text, detaching
it from the accumulated weight of previous literary scholarship and seeing
it as if new.
They focus attention (within both text and co-text) on issues of State
power and how it is maintained, on patriarchal structures and their perpetuation,
and on the process of colonisation, with its accompanying "mind-set."
They make use, in doing so, of aspects of the post-structuralist outlook,
especially Derrida's notion that every facet of reality is textualised,
and Foucault's idea of social structures as determined by dominant "discursive
New Historicism: Shaping different versions
Renaissance/early modern studies: Mapping
Breaking boundary of Renaissance study: "[W]e are discovering that the
early modern era had vastly different, usually less rigid, ways of defining
sexual deviance than our society does; that sense of difference cannot
but alter our interpretation of what constitutes normative sexual behavior
in the literature" (Marcus 47).
Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 6th
ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1993.
Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. Manchester: Manchester University
Marcus, Leah S. "Renaissance/Early Modern Studies." Reclaiming the
Boundaries. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt and Giles Gunn. New York: MLA, 1992.
Martin, Graham. "New Historicism." A Handbook to Literary Research.
Selden, Raman, Peter Widdowson, and Peter Brooker eds. A Reader's
Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory. 4th ed. London: Prentice