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Class 19 Notes

Page history last edited by Alan Liu 9 years, 4 months ago

Preliminary Class Business


1. Cultural Anthropology —

     Clifford Geertz, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight"

       from The Interpretation of Cultures (1973)



"Consider, [Gilbert Ryle] says, two boys rapidly contracting the eyelids of their right eyes. . . ." (p. 6)



The concept of culture I espouse, and whose utility the essays below attempt to demonstrate, is essentially a semiotic one.  Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning.  It is explication I am after, construing social expressions on their surface enigmatical. (p. 5)


But the point is that between what Ryle calls the “thin description” of what the rehearser (parodist, winker, twitcher . . .) is doing (“rapidly contracting his right eyelids”) and the “thick description“ of what he is doing (“practicing a burlesque of a friend faking a wink to deceive an innocent into thinking a conspiracy is in motion”) lies the object of ethnography: a stratified hierarchy of meaningful structures in terms of which twitches, winks, fake-winks, parodies, rehearsals of parodies are produced, perceived, and interpreted, and without which they would not (not even the zero-form twitches, which, as a cultural category, are as much non-winks as winks are non-twitches) in fact exist, no matter what anyone did or didn’t do with his eyelids. (p. 7)



2. The New Historicism






E. M. W. Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Order


Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning



Appendix: New Historicism — Selected Readings

                                           (focus on Renaissance and Romanticism fields)

                                           Red check mark= especially recommended or important in shaping New Historicism as method 


  • Overviews, omnibus reviews, retrospectives, criticism:
    • Jonathan Freedman, Review of Imagination and Desire in the Novels of Henry James, by Carren Kaston, and Henry James and the Art of Power, by Mark Seltzer, New England Quarterly 59 (1985): 323-30
    • Red check markCatherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt, Practicing New Historicism (2000)
    • Jonathan Goldberg, "The Politics of Renaissance Literature: A Review Essay," ELH 49 (1982): 514-42
    • Richard Helgerson, Review article on Language as Ideology, Language and Control, and Literature, Language and Society in England, 1580-1680, by various authors.  Comparative Literature 35 (1983): 362-373
    • Red check markJean E. Howard, "The New Historicism in Renaissance Studies," English Literary Renaissance 16 (1986): 13-43
    • Alan Liu, "The Power of Formalism: The New Historicism," ELH 56 (1989): 721-71
    • J. Hillis Miller, "The Triumph of Theory, the Resistance to Reading, and the Question of the Material Base," PMLA 102 (1987): 281-91
    • Edward Pechter, "The New Historicism and Its Discontents: Politicizing Renaissance Drama," PMLA 102 (1987): 292-303
    • H. Aram Veeser, ed., The New Historicism (New York: Routledge, 1989)


  • Representative Works:
    • Catherine Belsey, The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama (1985)
    •  John Bender, Imagining the Penitentiary: Fiction and the Architecture of Mind in Eighteenth-Century England (1987)
    • Mark Breitenberg, "' . . . the hole matter opened': Iconic Representation and Interpretation in 'The Quenes Majesties Passage'," Criticism 28 (1986): 1-26.
    • Michael D. Bristol, Carnival and Theater: Plebeian Culture and the Structure of Authority in Renaissance England (1985)
    • Thomas Cartelli, "Ideology and Subversion in the Shakespearean Set Speech."  ELH 53 (1986): 1-25.
    • Terry Castle, Masquerade and Civilization: The Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-Century English Culture and Fiction (1986)
    • Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (1984)
    • Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, ed., Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism (1985)
    • Patricia Fumerton, Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament (1991)
    • Red check markJonathan Goldberg, James I and the Politics of Literature: Jonson, Shakespeare, Donne, and Their Contemporaries (1983)
    • Stephen Greenblatt,
      • Red check markRenaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (1980)
      • Red check markShakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (1988)
      • "Murdering Peasants: Status, Genre, and the Representation of Rebellion," Representations 1 (February 1983): 1-29
    • Richard Helgerson
      • "The Land Speaks: Cartography, Chorography, and Subversion in Renaissance England," Representations 16 (Fall 1986): 50-85
      • "Inventing Noplace, or the Power of Negative Thinking," Genre 15 (1982): 101-21
      • Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser, Jonson, Milton and the Literary System (1983)
    • Jean E. Howard and Marion F. O'Connor, ed., Shakespeare Reproduced: The Text in History and Ideology (1987)
    • Marie-Hélène Huet, Rehearsing the Revolution: The Staging of Marat's Death, 1793-1797, trans. Robert Hurley (1982)
    • Mary Jacobus, "'That Great Stage Where Senators Perform': Macbeth and the Politics of Romantic Theater," Studies in Romanticism 22 (1983): 353-87
    • Jon P. Klancher
      • The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832 (1987)
      • "Reading the Social Text: Power, Signs, and Audience in Early Nineteenth-Century Prose," Studies in Romanticism 23 (1984): 183-204
    • Marjorie Levinson
      • Red check markWordsworth's Great Period Poems: Four Essays (1986)
      • "Back to the Future: Wordsworth's New Historicism," South Atlantic Quarterly 88 (1989): 633-59
    • Alan Liu
      • Wordsworth: The Sense of History (1989)
      • "Wordsworth and Subversion: Trying Cultural Criticism," Yale Journal of Criticism 2, no. 2 (Spring 1989): 55-100
      • Review article on Wordsworth's Historical Imagination: The Poetry of Displacement, by David Simpson, The Wordsworth Circle 19 (1988): 172-81
      • "The New Historicism and the Work of Mourning," Studies in Romanticism 35 (1996): 553-62
      •  Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database (2008)
    • Leah S. Marcus
      • Red check markThe Politics of Mirth: Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Marvell, and the Defense of Old Holiday Pastimes (1986)
      • Puzzling Shakespeare: Local Reading and its Discontents (1988)
    • Arthur F. Marotti, "'Love Is Not Love': Elizabethan Sonnet Sequences and the Social Order," ELH 49 (1982): 396-428
    • Jerome J. McGann
      • Red check markThe Romantic Ideology: A Critical Investigation (1983)
      • Social Values and Poetic Acts: The Historical Judgment of Literary Work (1988)
      • ed., Historical Studies and Literary Criticism (1985)
    • Louis Adrian Montrose
      • Red check mark"'Eliza, Queene of shepheardes,' and the Pastoral of Power," English Literary Renaissance 10 (1980): 153-82
      • Red check mark"The Elizabethan Subject and the Spenserian Text," in Literary Theory/Renaissance Texts, ed. Patricia Parker and David Quint (1986)
      • "The Purpose of Playing: Reflections on a Shakespearean Anthropology," Helios, n. s. 7, no. 2 (Spring 1980): 51-74
      • "Gifts and Reasons: The Contexts of Peele's Araygnement of Paris," ELH 47 (1980): 433-61
      • "'Shaping Fantasies': Figurations of Gender and Power in Elizabethan Culture," Representations 2 (Spring 1983): 61-94
      • "Renaissance Literary Studies and the Subject of History," English Literary Renaissance 16 (1986): 5-12
    • Steven Mullaney, The Place of the Stage: License, Play, and Power in Renaissance England (1988)
    • Stephen Orgel
      • The Illusion of Power: Political Theater in the English Renaissance (1975)
      • "Making Greatness Familiar."  Genre 15 (1982): 41-48
      • "Prospero's Wife," Representations 8 (Fall 1984): 1-13
    • Patricia Parker and David Quint, ed., Literary Theory/Renaissance Texts (1986)
    • Reeve Parker, "Reading Wordsworth's Power: Narrative and Usurpation in The Borderers," ELH 54 (1987): 299-331
    • Timothy J. Reiss, "Montaigne and the Subject of Polity," in Literary Theory/Renaissance Texts ed. Patricia Parker and David Quint (1986)
    • Mark Rose, "The Author as Proprietor: Donaldson v. Becket and the Genealogy of Modern Authorship," Representations 23 (Summer, 1988): 51-85
    • David Simpson, Wordsworth's Historical Imagination: The Poetry of Displacement (1987)
    • Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (1986)
    • Leonard Tennenhouse
      • Power on Display: The Politics of Shakespeare's Genres (1986)
      • "Strategies of State and Political Plays: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VIII," in Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism, ed. Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield (1985)
    • Don E. Wayne, Penshurst: The Semiotics of Place and the Poetics of History (1984)
    • Robert Weimann, "History and the Issue of Authority in Representation: The Elizabethan Theater and the Reformation," New Literary History 17 (1986): 449-76




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