Simon Wortham
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The ‘glasse’ of majesty
Reflections on new historicism and cultural materialism
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The 'glasse' of majesty depended on the reversibility of subject-object within the drama of Stuart succession, in order to reproduce and circulate the mythic totality of power. In a number of key texts associated with new historicism and cultural materialism, the 'hall of mirrors' image of the spectacle of power is considered so important as to provide a starting point for the analysis. New historicism can be situated within an American tradition, epitomised at its height by New Criticism, that seems primarily concerned with the 'cultivation of "emotional distance'". Cultural materialism claims at the gritty level of practice as well as in the seductive language of theory to foreground its, and others', mediations of literary and cultural objects. In Radical Tragedy, one of the key texts in the development of cultural materialism, Jonathan Dollimore refutes textual coherence and stresses instead literary and cultural fragmentation and discontinuity in the Renaissance.

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