Neo-Historicism: Studies in Renaissance Literature, History by Robin Headlam Wells, Glenn Burgess, Rowland Wymer

By Robin Headlam Wells, Glenn Burgess, Rowland Wymer

For almost twenty years, Renaissance literary scholarship has been ruled by means of a number of sorts of postmodern feedback which declare to show the simplistic method of `traditional' feedback and to supply a extra refined view of the relation among literature and background; besides the fact that, this new technique, even supposing making students extra alert to the political value of literary texts, has been commonly criticised on either methodological and theoretical grounds. The revisionist essays accrued during this quantity make a huge contribution to the fashionable debate on ancient procedure, impending Renaissance tradition from diversified gender views and numerous political standpoints, yet all sharing an curiosity within the interdisciplinary research of the prior. members: GLENN BURGESS, STANLEY STEWART, BLAIR WORDEN, ANDREW GURR, KATHARINE EISAMAN MAUS, ROWLAND WYMER, GRAHAM PARRY, MALCOLM SMUTS, STEVEN ZWICKER, HEATHER DUBROW, ROBIN HEADLAM WELLS.

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99 This must mean that for Hawkes there can be no genuine historical knowledge of Shakespeare's plays available to us. The diculty for literary critics is how to move beyond historical reconstruction without falling into such extreme cognitive relativism. While a historicist approach involving the recovery of original meaningevents would seem to be the precondition for understanding and judging texts from the past, this does not in itself satisfy the expectation that literary critics should also be evaluating the texts with which they deal.

Ankersmit, while following White in claiming that `a historical interpretation projects a structure onto the past and does not discover it as if this structure existed in the past itself ', nonetheless makes a very sharp distinction between historical research (which issues in statements) and historical writing (which issues in narratives). He argues that to treat writing (narratives) as justi®able by evidence in the way that statements of fact are is to do no more than confuse these categories.

Post-revisionist history is little better. It has recognised some of the failings of revisionism, but its own prescriptions are problematic. 7 The meta-narrative gets smuggled back in without close inspection. And, indeed, many of the proposed postrevisionist syntheses look suspiciously like pre-revisionist meta-narratives. Important in thinking our way out of these problems will be rethinking that much-used but under-analysed concept of anachronism. A critical historiography ± for historians and critics ± needs to do three things.

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