Literary Criticism Essay

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yA Brief Overview of Literary Theory ------------------------------------------------- New Historicism Historical Background This approach first appeared in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. It is largely a reaction to the New Criticism and deconstructionist approaches prevalent during the time. New historicists accept the importance of the text, but analyze the text with an eye to history of the time of the text’s creation (Dobie175). So how are new historicists different from historicist? -New historicist have been influenced by the post-structuralism, feminist, Marxist, and Reader-Response criticisms of the 1970’s. -Less fact- and event-oriented than historicist, because they question if the true events of history can ever be proven and can all voices be heard. -New Historicists do not view history as linear or evolutionary. -New Historicists view history as a social science like anthropology and sociology. -New Historicists view the text as a socially constructed item. Important philosophers -Michel Foucault (1926-1984)-French philosopher who brought together incidents and groups that were not viewed as connected. He viewed history not as a series of cause and effect scenarios, but a complex web of social, political, and economic factors that combine to create phenomena. Foucault saw history in terms of power that is a complex force that creates history (Murfin and Ray). -Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975)-Russian philosopher who viewed literary works in terms of polyphonic discourses and dialogues between the official, legitimate voices of society and other, more challenging or critical voices echoing popular culture (Murfin and Ray). What do New Historicists look for? -Abuses and misuses of power (ex. oppression, suppression, repression of a minority group. -Comparisons to contemporary sign systems-fads,

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