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The New Historicism

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  37 ratings  ·  5 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 28th 1989 by Routledge
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By turns fascinating and irritating. Some of the essays in this volume, including some of both the laudatory and the critical essays, provide insight. Others are rants.

There are two convictions, it seems to me, at the base of New Historicism. First, there is the conviction that everybody is caught in history; no one, including the scholar, is free from the constraints of her context (material as well as ideological), yet neither has anyone unmediated access to material facts of reality. Second,
Collection of essays, some better than others, some pro, some contra. Foucault this, Geertz that. Predictable, &c. Worthwhile for literature students who are interested in late 20th century developments.

Spivak's contribution is top notch. Fineman's reading of Thucydides is also slick, as is Shaeffer's reading of Vico. The standout is Pecora's interpretation of Geertz's work on Indonesia, which juxtaposes "local knowledge" and "thick description" against the 1965 CIA coup, which resulted in
Juanita Rice
A quite revealing take on New Historicism, useful and informative in 1989, with strong views pro and con among the essays. But like much academic theory it didn't, overall, age well. I think New Historicism made a positive impact on studies of the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, on Shakespeare especially. Essays which I most recommend from this collection are by Louis Montrose on "The Poetics and Politics of Culture," Hayden White trying to summarize and synthesize, Stephen Greenblatt (conside ...more
Representative sampling of a 'school' notorious for resisting classification. Generally, the approach to literature is rhetorically and intellectually dishonest (essentially because being a 21st century Marxist is like being a follower of that crazy pastor who keeps predicting the end of the world: when what you swore was gonna happen don't happen, you need some fancy talkin' to keep the boat afloat).
Obnoxiously dense at times, but the essay by Joel Fineman was quite useful.
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