New Historicism, Old Historicism Q&A

 

Students asked me some questions about New Historicism and “Old” Historicism. Here are some of my answers.

  • Could you clarify the difference between New Historicism and Old Historicism (as you classified it in 5.1.2.2.)?
  • My question this week focuses on New Historicism. It was stated that the basic tenet of New Historicism investigates how literary works are positioned in historical periods, but also how historical periods are shaped by literary works.
    I am having difficulty trying to relate this to the problems investigated in Measure for Measure. One way in which I try to understand it is when I focus on the the play targeting police incompetence during the late 1700s and early 1800s (literary work positioned in history). How does this “shape” the period? Is it that it influences the way in which we view that period? Or did texts focusing on this problem spark a change in history? Is it simply that this work was part of a specific period, but that also this period was characterized by that work?
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