Stephen Greenblatt's Poetics Of Culture

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In Stephen Greenblatt’s hermeneutical enterprise Poetics of Culture (1987), he proposes that since poetry and history are both forms of poiesis, a creative energy that inspires all imaginative human activities, a literary work must be contextualised in its sociohistorical environment to which it belongs and from which it acquires its meaning. The economic, political and socio-cultural conditions of a specific time frame serve to create the identity of the individuals that constitute a historical environment. The artistic representations of human lives and their interactions in a society capture the identity of an age. Its author is also shaped by the context in which he exists and by which his artistic creation is also fashioned. Hence, artistic creations are inseparable from the human lives and histories involved in their creation and consumption. Greenblatt’s views on textuality are central to the hermeneutical practice he advocates in the Poetics of Culture, which became popular in aesthetic circles as New Historicism.…show more content…
Instead of theorising endlessly on his concepts, his attempts have been to demonstrate how it becomes a handy tool for the critic in the business of analysing texts and, therefore, New Historicism has grown into an accommodative critical discipline rather than ending up as dry doctrine. Greenblatt’s favourite field of study has been literary works of the Renaissance period, particularly Shakespearean plays which he does not approach as inviolable texts that exist in splendid isolation from other forms of expressions during the same period, with “determinate meanings or a stable set of reflections” on historical events (Greenblatt 5-6). He uses words such as ‘shifting’ and ‘jostling’ rather than stable or unchanging when he talks about
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