New Historicism Analysis

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New Historicism, emerging in the late 1970s and gaining wide acceptance during the 1990s, is a methodology and literary theory attaching importance to the context within which a work of literature is produced and is based on the premise that a literary work is a cultural artifact shaped by and shaping the culture within which it emerged, having a dual function: both a product and a producer of culture. In this approach, the literary work and the historical conditions producing it carry the same weight since the text and context are mutually constitutive. As Stephen Greenblatt, the coiner, the major proponent, and the most influential practitioner of new historicism, says: “History and literature are mutually imbricated” (The Greenblatt Reader…show more content…
The concepts, oppositions, and hierarchies are constructed by power or social forces and, in turn, construct power. Discourses, serving specific interests, are conceived of ways of classifying and ordering by Foucault. Thus, it is the concepts, oppositions, and hierarchies which determine what is considered knowledge and truth or what is regarded normal and abnormal in a particular period. New Historicism employs Foucault’s technique of understanding a particular time’s episteme, i.e. the conventional mode of gaining and organizing knowledge which unites the diverse discourses and warrants their coherence within an underlying structure of implicit assumptions about the status of knowledge, to approach a literary text as a representation of or reaction to the power-structures in a given society. In fact, discourses can be employed as powers to govern and dominate as well as define and label people. What is embedded in a discourse is not just power but resistance to power as well. Foucault holds that people are the sites of discourses and constructed by…show more content…
New Criticism rejected the importance of cultural and historical context of a text and focused on the merits of a literary work which were supposed to exist independently from both its intended audience and the author’s intentions. While New Critics conceived of a literary work as a world-in-itself with intrinsic values to be interpreted just by intrinsic criteria and free from extrinsic relations to the author or the environing world, the New Historicists’ attempts to determine the extrinsic factors such as the literary and non-literary texts read by the author of a given text are directed at exploring the relationship between a text and its attendant circumstances, cultural, social, political, etc, which brought the literary work into being. In other words, since a literary text is a social and cultural construct shaped by more than one consciousness, the best way to appreciate it is through the culture and society that propagated it. New Historicism also rejects the privileging of canonical works by the New Criticism as well as the Structuralism and considers marginal, fragmentary and seemingly insignificant texts worth reading because it views texts as part of a variegated, and
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