Seniors: New Historicism literary criticism, Macbeth in real life

Today we started looking at Macbeth through a new filter, New Historicism:

A critical approach developed in the 1980s through the works of  Michel Foucault and Stephen Greenblatt, similar to Marxism. Moving away from text-centered schools of criticism such as New Criticism, New Historicism reopened the interpretation of literature to the social, political, and historical milieu that produced it. To a New Historicist, literature is not the record of a single mind, but the end product of a particular cultural moment. New Historicists look at literature alongside other cultural products of a particular historical period to illustrate how concepts, attitudes, and ideologies operated across a broader cultural spectrum that is not exclusively literary. In addition to analyzing the impact of historical context and ideology, New Historicists also acknowledge that their own criticism contains biases that derive from their historical position and ideology. Because
it is impossible to escape one’s own “historicity,” the meaning of a text is fluid, not fixed. New Historicists attempt to situate artistic texts both as products of a historical context and as the means to understand cultural and intellectual history.

To start that, we split into groups to look at sections of Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, which tells the real historical story of Duncan, Macbeth and Banquo. Here’s a link to that:

We’re starting class Thursday jumping right into the presentations on each section. Be ready.

I collected your first response paper today too. Get it to me if you didn’t give it to me in class.


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