New Historicism

New Historicism Introduction:

New Historicism is term applied to a body of analytical and critical work on the English Renaissance, mostly by the writing of Stephan Greenblatt. New Historicism is a form of literary theory, the goal of which is to understand history through literature, and literature through its cultural context. New Historicism is based on the analysis of cultural, historical, political, economic and moral interaction of the periods in which the literary works were written. The term New Historicism was coined by Greenblatt when he “collected a bunch of essays and then, out of a kind of desperation to get the introduction done, I wrote that the essays represented something I called a ‘new historicism


“New Historicism is a method of literary criticism that emphasizes the historicity of a text by relating it to the configurations of power, society, or ideology in a given time.”

Merriam Webster Dictionary.

New Historicism Explanation:

  • New Historicism in an approach to literary criticism based on the study that a literary piece should be considered a product of time, place and historical circumstances of is composition rather as an isolated work of art or text.
  • New Historicism acknowledges that not only that a work of literature is influenced by its author’s times and circumstances, but that the critic’s response to that work is also influenced by his environment, beliefs, and prejudices.
  • New Historicism is all about paying close attention to the literary texts in their historical contexts. Because all the poems, plays, novels are the product of the specific time and place.
  • A New Historicist looks at literature in a wider historical context, examining both how the writer’s times affected the work and how the work reflects the writer’s times, in turn recognizing that current cultural contexts color that critic’s conclusions.

What Historicists are concerned with?

  • New Historicists pay attention to power. They tend to see power as not exclusively class-related but extending throughout the society.
  • New Historicist believe that ultimately all human actions can be boiled down to power. Whether it can be wanting, fighting for it.
  • New Historicism focuses strongly on the effects of piece of literature and how it influence the culture and ideas of those who read it.
  • New Historicists look for bias in the text based on the author`s personal history and beliefs.

Significance of New Historicism:

  • New Historicism has gained immense popularity as critical process because of various reason. One major achievement of this method is that it provides different dimension of innumerable interpretations of literary works. As Greenblatt observes; “literature is not something given once and for all but something constructed and reconstructed, the product of shifting conceptual entitlements and limits.”
  • Another significance of New Historicism is the fact that it has encouraged and impacted a return to history and culture form the earlier preoccupation with the dry realm of pure theory.
  • The third significance of New Historicism id that it injects into the reader a sense to analyze the text in the light of a historically documented extract.