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New Historicism/Cultural Studies

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maddy rivard

on 17 September 2013

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Transcript of New Historicism/Cultural Studies

New Historicism/
Cultural Studies

Comparison Between New and Old Historicism
Old Historicism molded into New Historicism (born in the 1980s), transferring similar tactics, but also contrasting with the newer style.
Application to Other Texts
The concept of New Historicism/ Cultural Studies can be applied to other works of literature, one being Animal Farm by George Orwell and many Jane Austen novels.
A term previously unknown to us, a Literary Criticism theory establishes various views on many works of literature
Eleven different theories focus on specific aspects of a work of literature, aiming to gain a better understanding of a particular novel through different lenses.
New Historicism/ Cultural Studies: Way of Viewing Literature

New Historicism, an example of one of the eleven Literary Criticism Theories, pinpoints the historical aspect of literature, paying close attention to the way in which history can be interpreted and altered to influence an audience.
The Wise Words of Critic Stephen Greenblatt:
Point #1
Prior to the 1980s, it was believed that historical information taken from novels was entirely accurate, without any bias.
Point #1
History has varied affects on people; it is subjective to people’s feelings and emotions, making it biased
Old Historicists believe that if they delve into the historical context of the book, they will formulate a better understanding of the text.
New Historicism follows the principle that text is “culture in action” and is constantly molded and shaped by the culture that surrounds it.
Point #2
Old or Traditional Historicism heavily relies on the historical setting to interpret the novel.
Point #3
While New Historicism agrees that no novel can be separated by it’s historical counterpart, it looks at history as a fluctuating, interpretive aspect rather than a strong component of literature
Point #3
What does this work reveal about the connections between language, knowledge, and power in a particular culture?
What historical or cultural events illuminate the text?
How does this work reveal a historically specific model of truth and authority?
What language/characters/events present in the work reflect the current events of the author’s day?
Are there words in the text that have changed their meaning from the time of the writing?
How are events' interpretation and presentation a product of the culture of the author?
Does the work's presentation support or condemn the event?
How does this portrayal criticize the leading political figures or movements of the day?
Jane Austen, well known for her inclusion of underlying feminist themes, can also be identifiable with the New Historicism/ Cultural Studies Theory.
How does the literary text function as part of a continuum with other historical/cultural texts from the same period?
How can we use a literary work to "map" the interplay of both traditional and subversive discourses circulating in the culture in which that work emerged and/or the cultures in which the work has been interpreted?
George Orwell's Animal Farm has been used in discussion with the the New Historicism/ Cultural Studies theory. George Orwell himself was heavily influenced by events surrounding him and his approach to writing Animal Farm reflected his historical influence. Living amongst the Russian Revolution and Spanish Civil War, his novel hinted at his reactions to these events. Readers learning about these significant points in history are exposed to Orwell's portrayal, reading from interpreted text.
New Historicism/ Cultural Studies
New Historicism/ Cultural Studies
Both theories search for truth within literature
examines how the work reflects the author's life
cultural history can be revealed from literature in both theories
examines how the lower classes are oppressed
Questions a New
Historicst Would Ask
both theories focus on social class differences and economic situations in society
What is a Literary
Criticism Theory?

Point #2
How does the work consider traditionally marginalized populations?
We will focus on one particular theory called...
What guyle is this, that
those her golden tresses
she doth attyre under a net
of gold:
and with sly skill so
cunningly them dresses
that which is gold or heare
may scarse be told?

is it that mens frayle eyes,
which gaze too bold,
she may entangle in that
golden snare:
and ebing caught may
craftily enfold
theyr weaker harts, which
are not wel aware?

Take head therefore, myne
eyes, how ye doe stare
henceforth too rashly on
that guilefull net,
in which if ever ye
entrapped are,
out of her bands ye by no
meanes shall get.

Fondness it were for any
being free,
to covet fetters, though
they golden bee.
Sonnet 37 - Edmund Spenser
New and Old Historicism, although made up of the same basic ideals, contrast each other in their techniques, representing the different thoughts of different times. Old Historicists ask the basic question, "What Happened?", while New Historicists ask, "How has the historical context been interpreted?"
Jane Austen
New Historicists may note that in Austen's novels, the lower social class was made insignificant. Austen's exclusion of the servant class indicates that she inaccurately portrays the history of the novel.
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