New Historicism and Cultural Materialism by John Brannigan PDF

By John Brannigan

ISBN-10: 0312213883

ISBN-13: 9780312213886

ISBN-10: 0312213891

ISBN-13: 9780312213893

ISBN-10: 0333687817

ISBN-13: 9780333687819

ISBN-10: 1349266221

ISBN-13: 9781349266227

In this research, John Brannigan explains the improvement of recent historicism and cultural materialism and demonstrates either their makes use of and weaknesses as serious practices. Exemplary readings of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson and Yeats' Easter 1916 serve to teach and criticize the recent historicist and cultural materialist interpretative concepts. Brannigan explores the capability way forward for the theories and the debates surrounding their arguable place in literary studies.

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Example text

Williams cites three examples of 'residual' elements within the cultural system, and by residual he means some social or cultural practice which has been effectively formed in another epoch but which plays a significant role within contemporary culture. The first is organised religion, which he says has been partly incorporated into the dominant culture in the form of 'official morality, or the social order of which the other-worldly is a separated neutralizing or ratifying component' (Williams 1977, 122).

In Geertz we have a theoretical context for the way in which new historicists examine how a particular period or culture fashions itself, manufactures itself. The point with new historicists is not whether or not this self-fashioning is 'true' - all we have to make such a judgement is the textual and artefactual remains of their self-fashioning, anyway - but how and why an individual or a people fashion themselves in a particular way. Neither is it the practice of new historicists 34 The Turn to History to generalise specific examples of self-fashioning into the fashioning or imagination of an age or nation.

Geertz's description above could indeed be a description of new historicist critical practice, with some slight alterations. New historicists seek to understand the operation of power within and through human culture, rather than seeking to 'encounter humanity face to face'. Where Geertz is obviously interested in following up physiological and biological arguments, new historicists are more interested in the scientific and pseudo-scientific discourses in which such arguments take place. We will come across the practice of 'thick description' again later in the volume, but it is an important dimension of new historicism that this concept and practice comes first from the discipline of anthropology and that new historicists have put the disciplines of literary studies and anthropology into a mutually beneficial exchange.

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New Historicism and Cultural Materialism by John Brannigan

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