New Historicism is a literary theory based on the idea that literature should be studied and intrepreted within the context of both the history of the author an. Literary universality per se is seldom the precise target of the historicist project, so my strategy is to treat historicism's attitude toward universality. Historical criticism, literary criticism in the light of historical evidence or based on the context in which a work was written, including facts about the author's life and the historical and social circumstances of the time. New Historicism is a particular form of historical criticism. See also literary criticism.


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To understand why a person is the way he is, you must examine that person in his society: The Zeitgeistthe historicism in literature of the Age," is the concrete embodiment of the most important factors that are acting in human history at any given time.

This contrasts with teleological theories of activity, which suppose that the end is the determining factor of activity, as well as those who believe in a tabula rasaor blank slate, opinion, such that individuals are defined by their interactions. These ideas historicism in literature be interpreted variously.

What is New Historicism?

The Right Hegeliansworking from Hegel's opinions about the organicism and historically determined nature of historicism in literature societies, interpreted Hegel's historicism as a justification of the unique destiny historicism in literature national groups and the importance of stability and institutions.

Hegel's conception of human societies as entities greater than the individuals who constitute them influenced nineteenth-century romantic nationalism and its twentieth-century excesses. The Young Hegeliansby contrast, interpreted Hegel's thoughts on societies influenced by social conflict for a doctrine of social progressand attempted to manipulate these forces to cause various results.

Karl Marx's doctrine of "historical inevitabilities" and historical materialism is one of the more influential reactions to this part of Hegel's thought.

Historicism and Universals

Significantly, Karl Marx's theory of historicism in literature argues that capitalism disrupts traditional relationships between workers and their work. Hegelian historicism is related to his ideas on the means by which human societies progress, specifically the dialectic and his conception of logic as representing the inner essential nature of reality.


The term has been applied to similar developments in the study of Romanticismsuch as the work of Jerome McGann and Marjorie Levinson. For a fuller account, consult Paul Historicism in literature, Historicism The New Historicist understands literature to be rooted in its cultural and authorial connections.


Analysing this variety of texts alongside literature enables new historicists to find evidence historicism in literature widespread power structures operating in society.

They then identify potential patterns of subversion that expose networks of power operating across texts.

New Historicism

Practitioners of new historicism established a pattern for analysis that often begins by citing a single documentary anecdote. The anecdote might initially appear far removed from the concerns of the literary text in question, but by analysing connections across the diverse texts, critics historicism in literature able to actively expose similar social concerns and power relations in evidence in both.

New readings of history and literature allow critics to demonstrate the ways in which pervasive power structures operate in different types of text within a particular society at a particular time. The Poetics and Politics of Culture.

Shakespeare and historicism in literature Meaning of Life.

Historical Criticism

Literature and the Human: Literary Humanism, Wisdom and Modernity. Edinburgh University Press, Toward a New Historicism.

Princeton University Press, Shakespeare and the Nature of Love: Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory: Shakespeare and New Historicist Theory. The New Historicism of Stephen Greenblatt.

Amsterdam University Press, The Secret of World History: Selected Writings on the Art and Science of History. Fordham University Press, Historicism in literature German Enlightenment and the Rise of Historicism.

University of California Press,