The new historicism approach understands that readers are influenced by their culture and that critics should consider how their own culture affects their interpretation of the historical influence on a work. For example, 'The Chrysalides' by John Wyndham, was a futuristic book about telepathic children. A reader is going to have a hard time relating to this book because one has not lived through a time like this and because there is nothing like this in a history textbook. So when someone critiques the book he/she may have a different opinion on it then someone from the future who may have lived through a time like this. This approach should be used because when one is critiquing a book it allows them to understand that the book was written in a different time period and will be interpreted many different ways.
New historicism is a theory that views literature as an expression of history. The theory analyzes work based on the context it was created, and takes into consideration the fact that critics own culture affects their interpretation of the work. This theory can be used to analyze F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby. The work of F. Scott Fitzgerald allows the reader to capture the essence of the era in which it was created. The entire work can be seen as a metaphor for the exuberant twenties by use of the elaborate parties throughout the novel as well as the extreme wealth. Gatsby himself is a representation of the American dream, to strive for success, which was a reoccurring social theme throughout the time. The new historicism approach must also take into consideration that a critic analyzing the work from this day in age will have different views and opinions on the novel rather than someone analyzing the book when it was first published due to their unique historical influences they have encountered in their lives. The effectiveness of this theory can be seen when readers are able to view works of literature as parts of history even if they are fictional stories. By understanding that the author is writing about their personal experiences and opinions of the era in which they lived, the reader can obtain greater knowledge of what the era truly resembled. New historicism allows for an in-depth analysis of cultures and social conformities throughout various periods in time.
From Brookes comment and research I learned that the New Historicism theory views any piece of literature, fiction or not as a piece of history because the author was influenced by his/her time period and social conditions. The theory can be used to analyze the Great Gatsby and the roaring twenties time frame but on the other hand can be used to analyze Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. To Kill a Mockingbird is only based ten years after the roaring twenties. This was the time of the dirty thirties and is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum for social class. Instead of striving for the "American Dream" people were striving to even stay alive. Although this book is fiction it is a great representation of the great depression and the segregation problems happening in the States. This theory is very effective because it displays that someone born today will read analyze a book written in the fifties and have a completely different interpretation than someone analyzing it twenty years prior or from someone ten years later because of each persons prior history.
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New Historicism is a theory that believes literature must be studied and interpreted within the context of both the history and time it was written in. New Historicists argue that we cannot know texts separate from their historical context. New Historicism stresses that readers are influenced by their culture and that it is impossible to read literature without being objective. This criticism is seen in Animal Farm written by George Orwell. Animal Farm was published in 1945 and reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, and to Stalin’s era. Without knowing the historical context of this novel the ideology would not be interpreted and the reader would not be able to connect the farm animals to the characters and parties involved in the Russian Revolution. When analyzing literature I would use this criticism because it can help to gain a better understanding of historical viewpoints and the opinion of the author about that particular time in history.
From this post it can be seen that the new historicism approach views literature as part of history and it examines the time when the text was written. This means that pieces of literature can not only reveal historical facts, but also about the prevailing ways of thinking, social systems and much more. Also, it notes that culture and society influence the reader’s interpretation and the author’s inspiration. Similar to Animal Farm, Of mice and Men by John Steinbeck reveals the social conditions at the time that the novel was written. For example, racism and bigotry were almost the norm in 1930s America, and this is crucial for understanding the plot and why the characters act the way they do. It also explains why Steinbeck incorporated them into his novel. As with Orwell’s novel, without knowing the historical context surrounding Of Mice and Men, the reader would not be able to get the full effect of the author’s work and the messages he was trying to convey. This particular theory is very effective when analyzing literary works because it illustrates how all texts contain biases and are influenced in some way, shape or form by the culture and society at the time it was written. It also informs the reader that they can never really read a text objectively, as they are always influenced by their own culture and society.
The New Historicism Approach is based on the theory that one may not objectively view a piece of literature, as one’s own culture influences the way they interpret the work. Thus, New Historicists are strongly encouraged to practice reflexivity, in other words taking a step back and assessing their personal biases. This approach may be used to look at Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities, in the sense that without knowledge of the French Revolution, the reader would not be able to comprehend the extent to which the French people are oppressed and impoverished. People living in war torn countries such as Afghanistan and Sierra Leone are more inclined to feel that the setting described in A Tale of Two Cities is not as horrid as their own, and therefore not a major issue. However, people from stable countries like Canada would most likely find the conditions in the novel appalling, as it is not something they are accused to in their own life. When analyzing literature, I could use this theory as a way to better understand the various approaches one may view a piece of literature as a result of their personal biases, as well as encouraging research into a particular subject.
New Historicism is a form of critiquing with acknowledgement to the time period in which it was created. The critic must also take into consideration his own time period, which could distort the work’s meaning as well. When John Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men, during the great depression, he was putting his surroundings into the novel, characterizing them through a tragic couple of innocent men. These men, like those surrounding Steinbeck while writing the novel, were simply searching for a small piece of the American dream, but like all other men during that time, they were doomed to fail. This is less apparent for those not living through hardship, such as those reading in the twenty first century. This approach is very important to the examination of literature, and should be carried out every time a critic is observing a work outside his own time period.
New historicism takes into account the background of the author as well as the time in which the work was written. By taking all of this information into account one who uses this approach to literary criticism is able to see how events that happened around the time when the book was written and the way that the world was thinking at that time, and how it was interpreted in different ways. A work of fiction studied in school that this can be applied to is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In the time when the novel was written many black men were being blamed for crimes done by white men, especially in the southern states. In knowing this context one can read the novel and see the opinion the author had on the situations happening, and on how those around them were reacting to changing laws. By reading works from different time periods, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, a reader gets a different view from people who were living through the events as the event was happening. This form of criticism would be used to analyze classical works or works that were written when a historical event was happening, or just after. It would help to give information on what the world was like then and to how the people were reacting to these events. Some novels might not focus on an event, but might briefly mention it, since at the time the event did not seem as big, but to a reader of this time a passing note might give valued insight to reading.
New Historicism aims to understand the work through its historical context and to understand cultural and intellectual history through literature, as shown in The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. Using this approach in the novel Fitzgerald incorporated the well know dream during that time, the American dream, reflecting the social and economic events during that time. Jay Gatsby,is a symbol of the superficiality fact is that Americans were much more frivolous with their money during this time. Consumerism was becoming very popular, people were buying things out of desire, no longer out of necessity. The people during that time were more occupied by the items they had rather than getting to know the people around them.
New historicism approach critiques the novel based on the time period it was written in. Not only does it analyze the work in the context in which it was created but also in the context in which it was critically evaluated. The novel, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald takes place in the roaring twenties when the lifestyle of carelessness and luxury was enjoyed and the American Dream was chased. The reader would not necessarily understand this lifestyle and the reason behind it, along with many other values and mindsets portrayed without first knowing the historical context of the novel. This approach is useful when analyzing literature outside of one’s own time period as each work contains different biases that are not the same throughout history and culture.
New Historicism is an analytic approach that looks at both the time period in which the work was written in, and the time period of the author wrote the book. Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is a novel following two plots: one of the slave Tom, who lives is life in obedience of his master, and of Christianity; the other of the slaves George and Eliza, who are desperate to escape to Canada. Stowe was an abolitionist, who wrote the novel in response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. It was a law that condemned the aid of escaped slaves. It is well thought that the novel also aided in the start of the American Civil War. Through analyzing the historical context of the novel, it can be seen that the era heavily influenced its writing, making this theory useful and applicable in the analysis of other peaces of work.
New Historicism is the analysis of literature in the context of when it was written and the era it was written in must be referenced. The novel To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, is a story that takes place during a time where racism was the norm and justice was a corrupt system. As the protagonist, Atticus Finch, defends a black man accused of rape in a biased courtroom, one must take into account the historical time period in which the novel takes place. If this book was written during the 21st century, defending a black man in court would not be considering blasphemous, however, the civil rights movement was simply something of the future at that point. If New Historicism is not applied to this novel, one may not understand the importance of Atticus’ courage and boldness. One of the main themes of To Kill a Mockingbird is going against what is considered socially acceptable and without understanding the specific significance of the time period, one could believe what Atticus is doing is socially acceptable. I would use the New Historicism approach when analyzing literature as it gives the reader an idea of the context in which the writing should be read and helps one understand the culture, history, and bias of that era.
The New Historicism Approach seeks to find meaning in a text by considering the work within the framework of the prevailing ideas and assumptions of its historical era. These critics focus on revealing the historically specific model of truth and authority within a given work. In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, the plot certainly reflected the culture of the South during the mid-20th century. It also became a tool to raise awareness of and change certain elements of that culture. This analyzation is quite effective in giving the reader a greater understanding as to what conditions in which the characters are placed. I would definitely use this approach to analyze literature, seeing as it is proven to be a very strong and informative criticism.
2. New Historicism can be used to explain the social perimeters of a work. For example, the period from which the novel takes places helps to illustrate the opinions and behaviours of certain characters. An example of this can be seen in the play A Streetcar Named Desire.
The play is set during a time where the battery of women in their marriages is seen as something relatively normal. When Blanche protests after Stanley hits her sister –his wife-, the characters from the play act as though Blanche is over reacting. By today’s standards, Blanche has a legitimate cause for concern, however the social norms of the forties dictate otherwise. Two vastly different interpretations of the works occur based on the varied social standards of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
I believe that the social context of a work cannot be ignored. I have and will continue to use the New Historicism to analyse novels, as it helps to explain the behaviours and reactions of literary characters.
New historian criticism analyses a novel with reference to the historical situation. It states that work cannot be evaluated without consideration of the era in which it was created. For example, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was written in the 1960’s with innocent eye point of view. The knowledge of the setting and time period are essential in the understanding of the novel. The novel accurately reflects the social ideas at the time. The anti-racism idea had spread through The United States. However, at this time many in the South kept their 19th century opinions. This social background gives readers the answers to Scout’s questions about the behavior of their fellow citizens of Maycomb before they are discovered by her. With this approach, there is a compelling feature to the novel. New historian criticism is needed when analyzing literature, as it gives great amount of insight to the novel which the author may not add.
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