some notes from gallagher and greenblatt

On New Historicism:

Does this mean that we have constituted ourselves as, in the words of a detractor, “the School of Resentment”? Not at all: we are, if anything, rather inclined to piety. Nonetheless, any attempt at interpretation, as distinct form worship, bears a certain inescapable tinge of aggression, however much it is qualified by admiration and empathy. Where traditional “close readings” tended to build toward an intensified sense of wondering admiration, linked to the celebration of genius, new historicist readings are more often skeptical, wary, demystifying, critical, and even adversarial. This hermeneutical aggression was initially reinforced for many of us by the ideology critique that played a central role in the Marxist theories in which we were steeped, but, as we were from the beginning uncomfortable with such key concepts as superstructure and base or imputed class consciousness, we have found ourselves, as we will discuss at some length in this book, slowly forced to transform the notion of ideology critique into discourse analysis. Moreover, no matter how thoroughgoing our skepticism, we have never given up or turned our backs on the deep gratification that draws us in the first place to the study of literature and art. Our project has never been about diminishing or belittling the power of artistic representations, even those with the most problematic entailments, but we never believe that our appreciation of this power necessitates either ignoring the cultural matrix out of which the representations emerge or uncritically endorsing the fantasies that the representations articulate. (8-9)

Gallagher, Catherine, and Stephen Greenblatt. Practicing New Historicism. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.

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