(redirected from historicists)
Also found in: Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.


 (hĭ-stôr′ĭ-sĭz′əm, -stŏr′-)
1. A theory that events are determined or influenced by conditions and inherent processes beyond the control of humans.
2. The view that historical awareness is crucial for adequate understanding in a particular field or in general.
3. Art & Architecture The deliberate use or revival of historical styles in contemporary works.
4. Philosophy The view that historical periods should be studied without imposing anachronistic categories of evaluation.

his·tor′i·cist adj. & n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(hɪˈstɒrɪˌsɪzəm) or


1. (Historical Terms) the belief that natural laws govern historical events which in turn determine social and cultural phenomena
2. (Historical Terms) the doctrine that each period of history has its own beliefs and values inapplicable to any other, so that nothing can be understood independently of its historical context
3. (Historical Terms) the conduct of any enquiry in accordance with these views
4. (Historical Terms) excessive emphasis on history, historicism, past styles, etc
hisˈtoricist n, adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(hɪˈstɔr əˌsɪz əm, -ˈstɒr-)

1. a theory that history is determined by immutable laws and not by human agency.
2. a theory that all cultural phenomena are historically determined and that historians must study each period without imposing any personal or absolute value system.
3. a profound or excessive respect for historical institutions, as laws or traditions.
his•tor′i•cist, n., adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a theory that history is determined by immutable laws.
2. a theory that all cultural phenomena are historically determined and that all historians should study a period on its own merits.
3. a search for the laws of historical evolution.
4. a profound or an excessive respect for historical institutions, as traditions or laws. Also historism. — historicist, n., adj.
See also: History
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.historicism - a theory that social and cultural events are determined by history
hypothesis, theory, possibility - a tentative insight into the natural world; a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena; "a scientific hypothesis that survives experimental testing becomes a scientific theory"; "he proposed a fresh theory of alkalis that later was accepted in chemical practices"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


[hɪˈstɒrɪsɪzəm] Nhistoricismo m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


nHistorizismus m
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
References in periodicals archive ?
Instead, his book traces the roots of this later-twentieth-century historicism back to eighteenth and nineteenth century German thought from Chladenius through Weber and thereby provides the historical context for these later, "new" historicists, though the task of drawing the explicit connections between these intellectual movements remains.
By page three, that is, Knapp has defined himself, Stephen Greenblatt, Robert Weimann, and Patrick Chsney as "theatre historians" in contrast with scholars like Michael Dobson, Margreta de Grazia, Stephen Orgel, Jeffrey Masten, and Lukas Erne, whom he defines as "historicists." This comes as a bit of a surprise to Shakespeareans who lived through the 1980s and 1990s.
There is much to admire in this study, not least the same commitment to the reciprocal engagement of dramatic and historical texts that animates the work of Stephen Greenblatt and other new historicists. But neither do Levin and Watkins move beyond this model of interdisciplinarity.
Second, historicists tended to implicate Romanticism, insofar as it was historical, in a level of escapism, idealism, and denial that the historicist critic attempted to overcome in and through her work of criticism.
Historicists offer these extreme cases as instances in which an agent's history seems obviously relevant to his responsibility.
The New Historicists, wishing to ground their writings about literature in the real world, but wishing also to be as politically cutting-edge as the high-flying proponents of literary theory, proposed to use traditional historicist methods to arrive at interpretations conducive to a leftist outlook.
Clark) and postmodernists (above all Foucauldians and New Historicists), both because they are reductionist.
Appelbaum avoids this propensity by substituting the New Historicists' all-too-familiar subversion and containment model with one that accounts for "what Habermas calls 'the highly ambivalent content of cultural and social modernity,'" its "inevitable fusion of 'emancipatory-reconciling' and 'repressive-alienating' drives" (10).
To the obvious objection that few if any historical contexts are simply one-dimensional, and that it is therefore difficult to identify the single context an author supposedly reflects, new historicists have an interesting answer: all literary productions serve the interests of the dominant ideology.
Feminists, deconstructionists, and New Historicists have charged that traditional national literary histories, with their narratives of collective progress, give a false unity to what was a multicultural reality.
Because New Historicists rule English departments and professional organizations, and not yet from the grave, Kastan's book is premature as obituary, but timely as resume.
And because formalists could offer a Coleridgean "organic form" as romanticism's only admirable claim to the naturalism and autonomy of poetic language, some historicists, having adopted this history, could condemn exclusive attention to poetics as a romantic ideology of false resolutions to the social contradictions that generate literary form.