New Historicism and its application to Literature

Published: 2019-06-19 15:33:40
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New historicism simply refers to paying close attention to historical concepts of literary works. However, the reader alone cannot be solely responsible for the entire meaning (Coiro, Ann and Thomas Fulton, 13). After all, novels, plays, and poems are all a product of a particular time and place. It would, therefore, be dumb to ignore these contexts because they reflect and illustrate their values. An example is Donnes poem. He talks about the love for women and their qualities. His historical context enables us to understand why he says that you should first look at her and hen the quality in her (Smith, Daniel S, 12). The reader also plays a role in establishing the meaning. Establishing the value of a literary work is often a complex process in many cases. The task proves to be a difficult one for a variety of reasons. As well as interpretation, social context and culture play a fundamental role in how the meaning can be derived from a piece of literature (Castle, Gregory, 19). It is this search for meaning that has brought about literary theory in a bid to find meaning against a set of formal principles.

New historicism aims at examining a text in its historical context. Critics have based their interpretations on historic content such as ideology and their life to conclude their intentions. New historicism critics site history as a social science. It highlights the crossing point of text from aspects such as political power and cultural creations. Thus, New Historicism has its exceptional features in comprehending history as well as the unique outset of ideology and its elucidation of the historicity of texts and textuality of history. Post-structuralism and Criticism stress the autonomy of text, taking no account of social conditions, biography, and cultural factors. New Historicism pointed out that meticulous texts were to indicate that it was not only socially produced but also socially productive. It also stressed that the product of work that it performs is normally in the process of writing, enactment, or already read (Hattaway, Michael, 33). New Historicism campaigned for the close affiliation between content and context. This applied especially in the historic context that the text was produced.

According to Louis Montrose, the historicity of texts suggested the social, historical specificity, and substance embedding of all approaches to writing. The texts that reviewers study are not all that matters. The contexts in which we study them are also important. It is evident that the United States was expanding from its agricultural dominated society to an industrial society. According to Frederick Turner, an outstanding historian, the vanishing of the front line was a landmark in American history. It also endorsed the mixed publicity of Americans. The threatening disappearance of the frontier had an immense impact on the peoples psychology including the infamous Owen Wister. Therefore, Owen, who portrayed the character, the Virginian, was kind, brave, and dependent on astonishing visions. A character such as this was regarded as the appropriate representative of the frontline men. Although the geographical frontier was withdrawing with the progress of society, the community still worshiped a hero such as the Virginian.

The Virginian was well groomed and courageous. On the road, while shipping livestock to Chicago, he stopped some young men who were heading to Rawhide, where gold was said to be in large amounts. Because of such outstanding behavior, he became the first supervisor and later on, Judge Henrys partner. The Virginians accomplishment in his career inspired many American citizens to work towards the American dream. One was destined to succeed through personal efforts despite the great struggle. The love story that led to the marriage of Mary Stark to the Virginian had its unique historical impacts. The unnamed foreman had a free and uncivilized life without fixed dwellings in the untamed West. Their story persisted despite Mary Stark Wood being brought up in a civilized and well-bred eastern family. The two young lovers had many differences in their ideologies. Their announcement, however, signified the concession between eastern culture and western culture. A compromise, therefore, emerged between civilization and wildness. Their marriage also illustrated the union between the American east and west areas, both rural and urban, aristocrats and the public.

In regards to the textuality of history, Montrose meant that the community had no contact with a full and genuine past. It would include a lived substance continuation. One that is not interceded by the surviving contextual hints of the people in question. Traces, whose survival cannot be explained, should not also be assumed meagerly conditional. Instead, they must be assumed subsequent ahead of multifaceted and delicate social processes of preservation. History could not be relied on then because human beings described a no pledged intention. These narrators were notably not objective in their narration almost all the time. Since such history was frequently recorded in the form of recitation, historians could also access historic information in the form of textuality.

The Virginian, as a result, disclosed the strange history of Wyoming in the mid-80s. Furthermore, some historical episodes had already been written into this text. The most evident occasion was the revolution in social class. With the desertion of the frontier and the expansion of industries, dominant capitalism was steadily formed. The emergence of such events eventually led to the change in social class. The bourgeoisie was distinguished into three categories: the dominant capitalist class, the old and middle-class bourgeoisie, and the new middle bourgeoisie. Owen Wister and his lover, Miss Wood, were representatives of the old middle-class bourgeoisie, which was declining due to the rise of monopoly capitalism in the late periods of the nineteenth century. Meanwhile, the Woods represented the eastern aristocrats. Luis Montrose connected aristocrats with democracy. This showed that the American eastern nobles and old middle bourgeoisie proposed to have a change in their declining economic and psychological state through democratic means. Moreover, the expansion of animal husbandry in Wyoming was also recorded in the text. Wyoming was a typical pasturing area among the several western cities.

The setting up of the Union Pacific Railroad created optimism and hopes of prosperity in the region. The population that constituted it grew swiftly. The construction of railway had greater impacts on the people of Wyoming. Populations from all lifestyles came to the plain region by train. In 1868, some ranchers were able to drive cattle from Texas to the plains of Cheyenne. These enabled them to carry out business by selling beef to workers during construction of the railway. Later on, more ranchers raised cattle in Laramies River Valley as well as in nearby plains. The cattle rearing industry then became very prosperous. This was during periods of between 1881 and 1885. Carriages that earlier on were the preferred means became trade goods that were transported along with Livestock and beef to the eastern regions by railroad. Such transportation became a leading factor in the development of the regions economy. Missionaries were also able to access the region. In addition to a rapid increase in population, the large merchandise from the aristocratic East was continuously flowing to the Wild West.

Another important point was that cattle was also being transported to the East as well as other European cities. This brought great fortune to the Wild West. Because of its fast development in financial systems and population, Wyoming became United States 44th state. As a result, it also began its development in monopoly capitalism together with the other forty-three states. The analysis of the Virginian in its historical perspective helps unveil the connection between its text and history. The work the Virginian was produced during the period when the Westward Movement was ending. This is what came to be known as the period when the western frontier disappeared. During the same period, however, the Virginian in the text continued with its frontier ideas and values, which were nurtured in the Wild West. Also, the texts hero became the archetype of later cowboy literature. These fictions were developed out of his extraordinary traits such as kindness, braveness, great insight, and courageousness. To some degree, the character represented by the Virginian was that of a frontiers spirit, generated and expanded during the surmounting of the Wild West. The Virginian became a cultural symbol that ensured a commitment to the policies, laws, and virtues of the frontiers. These included self-reliance, being optimistic, and daring to overcome new challenges. In this case, the text was able to shape history. The weight of this historical context on the Virginian hence can be easily found in its context. It includes the change in social class, the rise of the livestock industry and the eventful construction of the railroad as well as its impact on the economic development. Approaching the Virginian from the context of New Historicism would, therefore, provide new standpoints for its text and history.

Although different and free postmodernists can be realized by two important assumptions, first, the conjecture that there is no universal denominator in truth, God or the future guarantees the Oneness of humankind or the possibility of unbiased and purposeful thought. Second, the assumption that all individual structures function like language and that their systems are of varying functions, which are dominant but finite. Jean-Francois Lyotard argues that stability and order are preserved in contemporary societies through the means of impressive or master narratives. These are stories a culture informs itself about its customs and beliefs. An impressive narrative in American society might be a story explaining democracy as the most rational form of government that can lead to universal happiness. Every principle or ideology has its master narrative, according to Lyotard. For Marxists, on the other hand, the master narrative refers to the thought that capitalism will fail, and a communist world will emerge. Think of grand narratives as a kind of meta-ideology. This ideology explains a story that is told to explain the customary systems that exist.

Lyotard added that all features of contemporary societies, including science, depend on these striking narratives. Postmodernism, therefore, is the account of grand narratives. The understanding is that such narratives serve to facade the inconsistencies and instabilities that are innate in any social organization. In other words, a grand narrative disguises the contractedness of these categories by stating that disorder is chaotic. Postmodernism, in declining splendid narratives, favors mini-narratives. Postmodern mini-narratives are always conditional and transitory, making no assertion to universality, truth, or stability. These assumptions, however, are not precise according to postmodern reviewers. They have been questioned by other schools, such as Marxists, critical theorists, feminists, and pragmatic scholars. Post-structuralism is a twentieth-century improvement in ideas and literature, meticulously related with the efforts of Jacques Derrida and his enthusiasts. It started as a response to structuralism, which first materialized in Ferdinand de Saussures work on linguistics. Post-structuralism accounts of structuralism challenge the assumption that organizations are self-sufficient formations.Derrida carries out his assessment of structuralism systems using the method of deconstruction. This is...


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