A sense of place
Historicism, whither wilt?
in Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell
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This chapter explores the growing challenges to and revisions of prevailing historicisms in the criticism of early modern literature. It explains how Thomas Browne and W. G. Sebald's sense of the powerful yet surprisingly discontinuous ways in which the past acts upon the people might inflect the challenges as well as the work as literary historians generally. Much of Browne's most luminous thinking on the recoveries and losses associated with the passage of time in Hydriotaphia, Urn-Burial ruminates on the incessant and inevitable fading of knowledge from the historical register. A historicism rooted in an awareness of the affective and the material can also help to re-imagine the individual's particular encounters with early modern literature. The stimulating new approaches to early modern writing pose some methodological challenges in their attempts to access past affects or precise aesthetic experiences.


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