My Manifesto

I believe that literature should be read selfishly, contextualized through personal and applied connections to modern and historical culture, and analyzed in a group.  Throughout this course, the unsurpassable divisions and blatant differences between some of the critical methods have been interesting to look at.  However, through our efforts as a class to work through the two major texts, Mrs. Dalloway and Othello, I have found it fascinating how our new awareness and personal preference when it comes to this new group of unique critical approaches has been able to work together to dig out so much more meaning than just one approach would be able to.  We are able to hand-pick a method that we believe to be the most worthwhile and all write different papers about a single text from an infinite amount of perspectives.  I believe that literature is about becoming conscious, not just of details in the text and the author’s intent, but of the way these details isolate and clarify, or even create, something in the modern and historical culture.  This ability a text has, as a collection of language and plot tools, to both exemplify and create in the context of modern culture and historical culture leads me to believe that the critical approach of New Historicism is the one that we have studied that I agree with the most.

New Historicism seems worthy of a following to me because Greenblatt, the founder, and the approach as a movement acknowledges other critical approaches in its definition (by defining New Historicism as a break away from its predecessors’ gradual move to looking simply at the text for meaning.)  New Historicism allowed the idea of text to move from a verbal icon to a cultural artifact.  I find that if one is reading a text, the relationship between form and function and the internal meaning will pop up inevitably, and New Historicism is much more worthwhile as an approach because it moves a step further. The concept embedded in New Historicism that makes it stand out the most to me is the relationship between the historicity of texts and the textuality of history.  History creates texts and texts create history; we study literature to learn about our history, but with texts like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, would history even turn out the way it did if the text didn’t exist?  New Historicism acknowledges other critical approaches along with this unbreakable connection between history, culture, and text, which I find most conducive with the way I believe literature should be read, contextualized, and analyzed.  New Historicism has taught me that critical approaches can stem from a reverence or a disdain from a previous approach, which I will definitely use in my future pursuit of literary methods.  This class has taught me the logicality and usefulness of the range of critical approaches around for utilization today, and I plan on increasing my own personal connection to text through utilizing a multiplicity of approaches.

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