Article Title

The 'New Historicism' and Early Modern Drama: A Review Article


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

One of the curious things about literary criticism, including that applied to the drama, in the twentieth century is the way in which schools and fads emerge, mature, and then die away. Historical criticism, popular in the early part of this century, rose in response to the need for a positivistic study of literature in the academies where such study would be respected by colleagues from other disciplines. It came under severe attack in the period following the Second World War by the so-called New Critics, whose formalism and ahistorical attention to close reading of texts appealed to an influential generation of professors and teachers. For the past two decades, however, no school has claimed hegemony over the methodology of dramatic criticism, and indeed all previous approaches have been under scrutiny following the rise of deconstructionism and other postmodernist methodologies, some of them deeply rooted in skepticism. Fortunately, not all critics and scholars have eschewed attention to the historical contexts of drama, which indeed are most fruitfully examined through interdisciplinary analysis, an endeavor that has long been encouraged by Comparative Drama. Further, the school now identified as "New Historicism," perhaps best known through familiarity with Stephen Greenblatt's provocative Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980), has attempted to extend our understanding of literary contexts in unusual and sometimes exciting ways.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.