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Peter Barry

's mother. (Montrose describes an extravagant and protracted entertainment in which Raleigh and Greville acted out this metaphor.) All this demonstrates what is meant in practice by insisting upon the historicity of the text and the textuality of history. Cultural materialism The British critic Graham Holderness describes cultural materialism as ‘a politicised form of historiography’. We can explain this as meaning the study of historical material (which includes literary texts) within a politicised framework, this framework including the present which those literary

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
Leverage and deconstruction
Author: Simon Wortham

This book explores key critical debates in the humanities in recent times in the context of the legitimation crisis widely felt to be facing academic institutions, using Derrida's idea of leverage in the university. In particular, it concerns an account for the malaise in the university by linking critical developments, discourses and debates in the modern humanities to a problem of the institution itself. The book finds within these discourses and debates the very dimensions of the institution's predicament: economic, political, ideological, but also, inseparably, intellectual. It looks at some of the recurring themes arising in the early key texts of new historicism and cultural materialism. The book also argues that these approaches in a number of ways orient their critical strategies according to certain kinds of logics and structures of reflection. It instances disorientation and leverage in the university by exploring the problematic doubleness of economics as indeterminately both inside and outside contemporary cultural theory. The book also argues that the interdisciplinary approach of cultural analysis has a certain amount of difficulty positioning economics as either simply an outside or an inside. The orientation and leverage within the university apparently offered by the development of cultural studies and by certain forms of interdisciplinarity comes at the cost of an irresolvable disorientation between the object and the activity of criticism.

An introduction to literary and cultural theory
Series: Beginnings
Author: Peter Barry

Theory often eclipses the text, just as the moon's shadow obscures the sun in an eclipse, so that the text loses its own voice and begins to voice theory. This book provides summaries or descriptions of a number of important theoretical essays. It commences with an account of the 'liberal humanism' against which all newer critical approaches to literature, broadly speaking, define themselves. The book suggests a useful form of intensive reading, which breaks down the reading of a difficult chapter or article into five stages, as designated by the letters 'SQRRR': Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. It explains the rise of English studies by indicating what higher education was like in England until the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The book talks about the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida. It lists some differences and distinctions between structuralism and post-structuralism under the four headings: origins, tone and style, attitude to language, and project. Providing a clear example of deconstructive practice, the book then describes three stages of the deconstructive process: the verbal, the textual, and the linguistic. It includes information on some important characteristics of literary modernism practiced by various writers, psychoanalytic criticism, feminist criticism and queer theory. The book presents an example of Marxist criticism, and discusses the overlap between cultural materialism and new historicism, specific differences between conventional close reading and stylistics and insights on narratology. It covers the story of literary theory through ten key events.

Reflections on new historicism and cultural materialism
Simon Wortham

orientation ostensibly founded on a repudiation of other directions. The ‘new’ or ‘radical’ kinds of criticism I want to discuss in this chapter have by different means pointed the way for various assaults on ‘ahistorical’, ‘apolitical’ deconstruction over the last few years. Yet the ‘founding’ texts of new historicism and cultural materialism in fact

in Rethinking the university
Mark Robson

through the twin historicisms of cultural materialism and cultural poetics (or ‘new historicism’).2 The periodising title early modern is part of a movement away from notions such as ‘the English Renaissance’ or from ‘the Tudor period’, although such names are retained by some of historicism’s adherents.3 That the emergence of the phrase ‘early modern’ seems to mark a strategic attempt to delineate what otherwise appears to be a depressingly familiar ramification of what I suppose we must now term ‘old’ historicism doesn’t diminish its institutional effectivity.4 One

in The new aestheticism
Peter Barry

been replaced by minute attention to the cultural logistics of specific periods – especially Early Modernism, Romanticism, and Victorianism. Secondly , there is evidence of a turning away from the dominant materialism epitomised by British cultural materialism and American new historicism, and even a drift towards aspects of ‘the spiritual’, whether conceived of as metaphorical renderings of various aspects of reading, writing, and textuality (see Julian Wolfreys, Victorian Hauntings: Speciality, Gothic, the Uncanny and Literature , Palgrave, 2001), or as

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
Abstract only
Walking on two feet
Simon Wortham

some of the recurring themes and images arising in the early key texts of new historicism and cultural materialism, I argue in Chapter 2 that these approaches in a number of ways orient their critical strategies according to certain kinds of logics and structures of reflection. This orientation frequently takes the form either of an analysis of Renaissance power represented and discussed through a

in Rethinking the university
Censorship, knowledge and the academy
Simon Wortham

, ‘a similar kind of critical opposition becomes available in the present’. This is because, as I argued in Chapter 2 , cultural materialism has displaced dialectical materialism, such that ‘a form of reflection theory’ has been reasserted, through which ‘history has become a mirror in which contemporary political priorities have been substituted for the former certain ground of Marxist

in Rethinking the university
Simon Wortham

’ (censorship as a repressive, external threat to essential freedoms) that has been adopted by ‘political critics’ working on the early modern period (particularly British cultural materialists), which ‘makes available in the Renaissance a certain essentially moral notion of critical opposition’. ‘By extension,’ argues Burt, ‘a similar kind of critical opposition becomes available in the present.’4 This situation may well have come about, as Robert Young has noted, because cultural materialism as a broadly leftist critical practice has pretty much supplanted or displaced the

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis
Abstract only
Historicism, whither wilt?
Christopher D’Addario

the colonising dangers of attempting to speak for the past – something Stephen Greenblatt and other New Historicists have characterised themselves as doing and which comes through in their anecdotal style, no matter how ‘thick’ a description one provides of the cultural phenomenon under scrutiny.14 Despite the value of this reminder, however, these responses also understate New Historicism’s, and more so Cultural Materialism’s, at least theoretical investment in a self-conscious examination of early modern culture. From the start, its major theorists, including

in Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell