Page 285 Reviews Practicing New Historicism. By Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. 234 pp. Faced with the task of interpreting an âochre-written ï¬int,â one of Robert Frostâs narrators starts worrying: The meaning of it is unknown, Or else I fear entirely mine, All modern, nothing ancient inât, Unsatisfying to us each.1 This worry â that our understanding applies to ourselves alone, not to what we putatively study â is endemic to any sort of historical excavation, old or new. So when Stephen Greenblatt proposed a new approach to the problem of access, âI began with a desire to speak with the dead,â the living pricked up their ears.2 In the years since, New Historicists have undertaken, in various intriguing new ways, not only to assay the representational techniques of writers past but also to reach after some deeper certainty about the world they inhabited. No two New Historicist solutions advanced by such scholars as Frances Ferguson, Steven Knapp, Thomas Laqueur, Walter Benn Michaels, and Michael Rogin (to choose only from the original Representations editorial board) have been identical, but all share a commitment to critiquing positivism and empiricism and to making literary
Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary History – Duke University Press
Published: Sep 1, 2001
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