It draws on Western philosophers, Chinese theorists, and theorists of critical theory, new historicism
, and cultural studies, in addition to narratologists, to analyze how the writers manipulate dark moods and limit-situations like death and suffering, along with other motifs, to illustrate the historical authenticity and transcendent truth in their fiction.
Furthermore, the vast body of older critiques of new historicism
and cultural materialism are virtually untouched.
The essays focus on theory from several postmodern perspectives (gender studies, postcolonial studies, poststructuralism, new historicism
For example, after New Historicism
became dominant in America in the 1980s, Belsey often nipped at its heels, critiquing its assumptions about culture and history and proposing a critical practice less invested in thick description or in the kind of archive positivism into which historical work has increasingly declined.
Harvard professor and literary historian Stephen Greenblatt is a pioneer of New Historicism
and the author of Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (*** SELECTION Nov/Dec 2004).
Stone's thesis seeks to reinvigorate a discussion about psychoanalysis and new historicism
as methods of reading gender in Shakespeare.
A slender but significant collection of thoughtful and, at times, quite personal essays, this exemplary survey of New Historicism
's intimate encounter with Romantic literature arrives at a good moment for methodological introspection.
His "formalist" interests--not to mention his interest in "myth," whatever that is, and the Bible and the canon--are hardly valued by the approach that now dominates English studies, which is New Historicism
(variants in gender/postcolonial/cultural studies).
While the "old historicism" is out of fashion, the "New Historicism
" has risen to take its place (the ideological study of history and culture as a matrix of the struggle for power and domination a la Foucault, Greenblatt, et al).
In literary theory, this exact combination is integral to the field of new historicism
, which seizes on Michel Foucault's famous notion of invisible disciplinary powers to propose an omnipresent saturation of authority made legible even, if not especially, in supposedly illicit conduct.
For example, he announces that he intends to "eschew the bread and butter of new historicism
," namely, Gallagher and Greenblatt's "'the single voice, the isolated scandal, the idiosyncratic vision [and] the transient sketch'"(5), so that he may pursue more holistic readings.
As Renaissance Studies frees itself from the New Historicism
, it is bound to cast some backward glances at the texts that captivated it with that way of thinking about the past.