Reading Tudor-Stuart Texts through Cultural Historicism

Reading Tudor-Stuart Texts through Cultural Historicism

Reading Tudor-Stuart Texts through Cultural Historicism

Reading Tudor-Stuart Texts through Cultural Historicism

Synopsis

In an assessment of the new historicism as a form of historical knowledge, Albert Tricomi moves beyond it to present what he calls new cultural historicism. In pursuing this theme, he examines Tudor-Stuart representations of surveillance and the cultural oversight of the sexual body as revealed in Elizabethan-Jacobean drama to bring together two discourses that have not been joined before.
Tricomi shows the inadequacy of an older, event-based historical criticism that excludes various forms of cultural knowledge, including metaphor and states of mind as revealed in literary texts. At the same time, he demonstrates a more robust historicism by joining functional cultural analyses to a conception of historical understanding that can recognize both events and processes.
Tricomi suggests new and controversial possibilities of what historicized literary studies might be. His study will contribute to the emergence of a more extensive and vigorous cultural historicism.

Excerpt

This book is the product of my engagement with new historicism and my concern to reform several of its methods and to see it develop into what I have called "cultural historicism." In writing it, two purposes have guided me. The first, which came more and more clearly into focus as I concluded my earlier monograph Anticourt Drama in England, 1603-42 (1989), is methodological and theoretical: to explore the problem of historical knowledge in relation to the production of literary history and culture. The second is historical and literary: to produce a self-conscious form of cultural historicism by perusing the representations of surveillance and the sexual body in the popular literature, particularly the drama, of early modern England. The relationship between representation and culture is a new-historicist thematic that presents unplumbed opportunities and problems. In attempting to explore both, I have chosen as my subjects of inquiry two related activities that appear prominently in Tudor-Stuart drama and literature-- governmental surveillance and the social oversight of the sexual body.

The study is intended for those readers concerned with the relationships between history, anthropology, and literature as well as between new historicism, history, and literature. The subject of the book, Elizabethan- Jacobean literature and drama, will be of interest to students seeking new readings in these areas. Students interested in theory and its applications will find Michel Foucault to be an informing presence throughout this study, even when my thinking goes in a different direction. My concerns with representation, particularly in respect to symbolic forms of cultural . . .

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