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19. The New Historicism

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    Prof: So today we turn
    to a mode of doing literary
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    criticism which was
    extraordinarily widespread
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    beginning in the late seventies
    and into the eighties,
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    called the New Historicism.
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    It was definable in ways that
    I'll turn to in a minute and,
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    as I say, prevalent to a
    remarkable degree everywhere.
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    It began probably at the
    University of California at
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    Berkeley under the auspices,
    in part, of Stephen Greenblatt,
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    whose brief essay you've read
    for today.
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    Greenblatt and others founded a
    journal,
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    still one of the most important
    and influential journals in the
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    field of literary study,
    called
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    Representations--always
    has been and still is an organ
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    for New Historicist thought.
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    It's a movement which began
    primarily preoccupied with the
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    Early Modern period,
    the so-called
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    "Renaissance."
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    The New Historicism is,
    in effect, responsible for the
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    replacement of the term
    "Renaissance"
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    with the term "Early
    Modern."
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    Its influence,
    however, quickly did extend to
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    other fields,
    some fields perhaps more than
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    others.
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    It would be,
    I think, probably worth a
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    lecture that I'm not going to
    give to explain why certain
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    fields somehow or another seem
    to lend themselves more readily
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    to New Historicist approaches
    than others.
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    I think it's fair to say that
    in addition to the early modern
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    period,
    the three fields that have been
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    most influenced by the New
    Historicism are the eighteenth
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    century,
    British Romanticism,
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    and Americanist studies from
    the late colonial through the
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    republican period.
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    That age--the emergence of
    print culture,
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    the emergence of the public
    sphere as a medium of influence,
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    and the distribution of
    knowledge in the United States--
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    has been very fruitfully
    studied from New Historicist
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    points of view.
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    So those are the fields that
    are most directly influenced by
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    this approach.
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    When we discuss Jerome McGann's
    essay, you'll see how it
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    influences Romantic studies.
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    Now the New Historicism
    was--and this probably accounts
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    for its remarkable popularity
    and influence in the period
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    roughly from the late seventies
    through the early nineties--
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    was a response to an increasing
    sense of ethical failure in the
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    isolation of the text as it was
    allegedly practiced in certain
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    forms of literary study.
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    Beginning with the New
    Criticism through the period of
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    deconstruction,
    and the recondite discourse of
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    Lacan and others in
    psychoanalysis,
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    there was a feeling widespread
    among scholars,
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    especially younger scholars,
    that somehow or another,
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    especially in response to
    pressing concerns--
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    post-Vietnam,
    concerns with globalization,
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    concerns with the distribution
    of power and global capital--
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    all of these concerns inspired
    what one can only call a guilt
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    complex in academic literary
    scholarship and led to a
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    "return to history."
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    It was felt that a kind of
    ethical tipping point had been
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    arrived at and that the modes of
    analysis that had been
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    flourishing needed to be
    superseded by modes of analysis
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    in which history and the
    political implications of what
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    one was doing became prominent
    and central.
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    I have to say that in debates
    of this kind there's always a
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    considerable amount of hot air,
    perhaps on both sides.
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    In many ways it's not the case
    that the so-called isolated
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    approaches really were isolated.
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    Deconstruction in its second
    generation wrote perpetually
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    about history and undertook to
    orient the techniques of
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    deconstruction to an
    understanding of history,
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    just to give one example.
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    The New Historicism,
    on the other hand,
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    evinced a preoccupation with
    issues of form and textual
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    integrity that certainly
    followed from the disciplines,
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    the approaches,
    that preceded them.
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    Also to a large degree--and
    this is,
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    of course, true of a good many
    other approaches that we're
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    about to investigate,
    approaches based in questions
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    of identity also--
    to a large degree,
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    appropriated the language of
    the generation of the
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    deconstructionists and,
    to a certain extent,
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    certain underlying
    structuralist ideas having to do
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    with the binary relationship
    between self and other,
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    and binary relationships among
    social entities,
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    as opposed to linguistic
    entities;
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    but still, as I say,
    essentially inheriting the
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    structure of thought of
    preceding approaches.
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    So, as I say,
    it was in a polemical
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    atmosphere and at a moment of
    widespread self-doubt in the
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    academic literary profession
    that the New Historicism came
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    into its own--
    a response, as I say,
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    to the isolation of the text by
    certain techniques and
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    approaches to it.
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    Now very quickly:
    the method of New Historical
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    analysis fell into a pattern,
    a very engaging one,
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    one that's wonderfully
    exemplified by the brief
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    introduction of Greenblatt that
    I have asked you to read:
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    a pattern of beginning with an
    anecdote,
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    often rather far afield,
    at least apparently rather far
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    afield,
    from the literary issues that
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    are eventually turned to in the
    argument of a given essay.
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    For example:
    a dusty miller was walking down
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    the road,
    thinking about nothing in
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    particular,
    when he encountered a bailiff,
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    then certain legal issues
    arise,
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    and somehow or another the next
    thing you know we're talking
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    about King Lear.
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    This rather marvelous,
    oblique way into literary
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    topics was owing to the
    brilliance in handling it of
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    Greenblatt,
    in particular,
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    and Louis Montrose and some of
    his colleagues.
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    This technique became a kind of
    a hallmark of the New
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    Historicism.
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    In the long run,
    of course, it was easy enough
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    to parody it.
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    It has been subjected to parody
    and, in a certain sense,
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    has been modified and chastened
    by the prevalence of parody;
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    but it nevertheless,
    I think, shows you something
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    about the way New Historicist
    thinking works.
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    The New Historicism is
    interested, following
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    Foucault--and Foucault is the
    primary influence on the New
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    Historicism.
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    I won't say as much about this
    today as I might feel obliged to
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    say if I weren't soon be going
    to return to Foucault in the
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    context of gender studies,
    when we take up Foucault and
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    Judith Butler together--
    but I will say briefly that
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    Foucault's writing,
    especially his later writing,
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    is about the pervasiveness,
    the circulation through social
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    orders,
    of what he calls
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    "power."
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    Now power is not just--or,
    in many cases in Foucault,
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    not even primarily-- the power
    of vested authorities,
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    the power of violence,
    or the power of tyranny from
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    above.
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    Power in Foucault--though it
    can be those things and
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    frequently is--
    is much more pervasively and
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    also insidiously the way in
    which knowledge circulates in a
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    culture: that is to say,
    the way in which what we think,
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    what we think that it is
    appropriate to think--
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    acceptable thinking--is
    distributed by largely unseen
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    forces in a social network or a
    social system.
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    Power, in other words,
    in Foucault is in a certain
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    sense knowledge,
    or to put it another way,
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    it is the explanation of how
    certain forms of knowledge come
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    to exist--
    knowledge, by the way,
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    not necessarily of something
    that's true.
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    Certain forms of knowledge come
    to exist in certain places.
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    So all of this is central to
    the work of Foucault and is
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    carried over by the New
    Historicists;
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    hence the interest for them of
    the anecdotes.
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    Start as far afield as you can
    imaginably start from what you
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    will finally be talking about,
    which is probably some textual
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    or thematic issue in Shakespeare
    or in the Elizabethan masque or
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    whatever the case may be.
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    Start as far afield as you
    possibly can from that,
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    precisely in order to show the
    pervasiveness of a certain kind
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    of thinking,
    the pervasiveness of a certain
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    social constraint or limitation
    on freedom.
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    If you can show how pervasive
    it is,
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    you reinforce and justify the
    Foucauldian idea that power is,
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    as I've said,
    an insidious and ubiquitous
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    mode of circulating knowledge.
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    All of this is implicit,
    sometimes explicit,
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    in New Historicist approaches
    to what they do.
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    So as I said,
    Foucault is the crucial
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    antecedent and of course,
    when it's a question of
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    Foucault, literature as we want
    to conceive of it--
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    perhaps generically or as a
    particular kind of utterance as
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    opposed to other kinds--
    does tend to collapse back into
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    the broader or more general
    notion of discourse,
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    because it's by means of
    discourse that power circulates
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    knowledge.
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    Once again, despite the fact
    that New Historicism wants to
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    return us to the real world,
    it nevertheless acknowledges
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    that that return is language
    bound.
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    It is by means of language that
    the real world shapes itself.
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    That's why for the New
    Historicist--
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    and by this means,
    I'll turn in a moment to the
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    marvelous anecdote with which
    Greenblatt begins the brief
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    essay that I've asked you to
    read--
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    that's why the New Historicist
    lays such intense emphasis on
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    the idea that the relationship
    between discourse--
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    call it literature if you like,
    you might as well--
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    and history is reciprocal.
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    Yes, history conditions what
    literature can say in a given
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    epoch.
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    History is an important way of
    understanding the valency of
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    certain kinds of utterance at
    certain times.
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    In other words,
    history is--as it's
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    traditionally thought to be by
    the Old Historicism,
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    and I'll get to that in a
    minute--history is a background
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    to discourse or literature.
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    But by the same token there is
    an agency, that is to say a
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    capacity, to circulate power in
    discourse in turn.
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    Call it "literature":
    "I am Richard II,
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    know you not that?"
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    says Queen Elizabeth when at
    the time of the threatened Essex
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    Uprising she gets wind of the
    fact that Shakespeare's
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    Richard II is being
    performed,
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    as she believes,
    in the public streets and in
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    private houses.
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    In other words,
    wherever there is sedition,
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    wherever there are people who
    want to overthrow her and
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    replace her with the Earl of
    Essex,
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    the pretender to the throne,
    Richard II is being
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    performed.
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    Well, now this is terrifying to
    Queen Elizabeth because she
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    knows--
    she's a supporter of the
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    theater--she knows that
    Richard II is about a
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    king who has many virtues but a
    certain weakness,
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    a political weakness and also a
    weakness of temperament--
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    the kind of weakness that makes
    him sit upon the ground and tell
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    sad tales about the death of
    kings,
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    that kind of weakness,
    who is then usurped by
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    Bolingbroke who became Henry IV,
    introducing a whole new dynasty
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    and focus of the royal family in
    England.
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    Queen Elizabeth says,
    "They're staging this play
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    because they're trying to
    compare me with Richard II in
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    preparation for deposing me,
    and who knows what else they
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    might do to me?"
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    This is a matter of great
    concern.
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    In other words,
    literature--Fredric Jameson
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    says "history
    hurts"--literature hurts,
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    too.
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    >
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    Literature, in other words,
    has a discursive agency that
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    affects history every bit as
    much as history affects
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    literature: literature "out
    there," and theater--
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    especially if it escapes the
    confines of the playhouse
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    because,
    as Greenblatt argues,
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    the playhouse has a certain
    mediatory effect which defuses
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    the possibilities of sedition.
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    One views literary
    representation in the playhouse
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    with a certain objectivity,
    perhaps, that is absent
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    altogether when interested
    parties take up the same text
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    and stage it precisely for the
    purpose of fomenting rebellion.
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    Literature, especially when
    escaped from its conventional
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    confines,
    becomes a very,
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    very dangerous or
    positive influence,
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    depending on your point of view
    on the course of history.
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    So the relationship between
    history and discourse is
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    reciprocal.
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    Greenblatt wants to argue with
    a tremendous amount of stress
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    and, I think,
    effectiveness that the New
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    Historicism differs from the Old
    Historicism.
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    This is on page 1443 in the
    right-hand column.
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    John Dover Wilson,
    a traditional Shakespeare
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    scholar and a very important
    one, is the spokesperson in
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    Greenblatt's scenario for the
    Old Historicism.
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    The view I'm about to quote is
    that of John Dover Wilson,
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    a kind of consensus about the
    relationship between literature
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    and history:
    Modern historical scholarship
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    [meaning Old Historicism]
    has assured Elizabeth
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    >
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    that she had [this is the
    right-hand column about two
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    thirds of the way down]
    >
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    nothing to worry about:
    Richard II is not at all
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    subversive but rather a hymn to
    Tudor order.
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    The play, far from encouraging
    thoughts of rebellion,
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    regards the deposition of the
    legitimate king as a
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    "sacrilegious"
    act that drags the country down
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    into "the abyss of
    chaos";
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    "that Shakespeare and his
    audience regarded Bolingbroke as
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    a usurper,"
    declares J.
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    Dover Wilson,
    "is incontestable."
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    But in 1601 neither Queen
    Elizabeth nor the Earl of Essex
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    were so sure…
    Greenblatt wins.
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    It's a wonderful example.
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    It's the genius of Greenblatt
    to choose examples that are so
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    telling and so incontrovertible.
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    We know Queen Elizabeth was
    scared >
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    on this occasion,
    which makes it quite simply the
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    case that John Dover Wilson was
    wrong to suppose that Richard
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    II was no threat to her.
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    It's not at all the point that
    a broad, ideological view of
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    Richard II was any
    different from what Wilson said;
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    that was perfectly true.
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    Bolingbroke was
    considered a usurper.
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    It was considered tragic that
    Richard II was deposed;
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    but that doesn't mean that the
    text can't be taken over,
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    commandeered and made
    subversive.
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    Wilson doesn't acknowledge this
    because his view of the
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    relationship between history and
    literature is only that history
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    influences literature,
    not that the influence can be
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    reciprocal.
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    You see, that's how it is that
    the New Historicism wants to
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    define itself over and against
    the Old Historicism.
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    If there is a political or
    ideological consensus about the
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    legitimacy of monarchy,
    the divine right of kings,
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    the legitimacy of succession
    under the sanction of the Church
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    of England and all the rest of
    it--
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    all of which is anachronistic
    when you're thinking about these
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    history plays--
    if there is this broad
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    consensus, that's it,
    that's what the play
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    means according to the Old
    Historicism,
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    even though plainly you can
    take the plot of the play and
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    completely invert those values,
    which is what the Essex faction
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    does in staging it in those
    places where Queen Elizabeth
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    suspects that it's being staged.
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    Okay.
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    Now another way in which the
    Old Historicism and the New
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    Historicism differ--
    correctly, I think-- according
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    to Greenblatt is that in the Old
    Historicism there is no
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    question--
    I'm looking at page 1444,
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    the right-hand column about a
    third of the way down--
  • 19:42 - 19:53
    of the role of the historian's
    own subjectivity.
  • 19:53 - 19:56
    "It is not thought,"
    says Greenblatt,
  • 19:56 - 19:58
    "to be the product of the
    historian's
  • 19:58 - 20:01
    interpretation…"
    History is just what is.
  • 20:01 - 20:04
    One views it objectively and
    that's that.
  • 20:04 - 20:08
    Now notice here that we're back
    with Gadamer.
  • 20:08 - 20:12
    Remember that this was
    Gadamer's accusation of
  • 20:12 - 20:17
    historicism,
    the belief of historicism--what
  • 20:17 - 20:20
    Greenblatt calls the Old
    Historicism--
  • 20:20 - 20:26
    that we can bracket out our own
    historical horizon and that we
  • 20:26 - 20:31
    can eliminate all of our own
    historical prejudices in order
  • 20:31 - 20:37
    to understand the past
    objectively in and for itself.
  • 20:37 - 20:39
    This is not the case,
    said Gadamer,
  • 20:39 - 20:40
    remember.
  • 20:40 - 20:44
    Gadamer said that
    interpretation must necessarily
  • 20:44 - 20:49
    involve the merger of horizons,
    the horizon of the other and my
  • 20:49 - 20:52
    own horizon as an interpreter.
  • 20:52 - 20:57
    I cannot bracket out my own
    subjectivity.
  • 20:57 - 20:58
    Okay.
  • 20:58 - 21:01
    If that's the case,
    then Gadamer anticipates
  • 21:01 - 21:04
    Greenblatt in saying that the
    naïveté
  • 21:04 - 21:08
    of the Old Historicism is its
    supposition that it has no
  • 21:08 - 21:12
    vested interest in what it's
    talking about--
  • 21:12 - 21:15
    that is to say,
    its supposition that it wants
  • 21:15 - 21:19
    history to accord in one way or
    another with its own
  • 21:19 - 21:22
    preconceptions,
    but isn't aware of it.
  • 21:22 - 21:26
    The anecdote--again,
    wonderfully placed in the
  • 21:26 - 21:30
    polemical argument--
    that after all,
  • 21:30 - 21:34
    John Dover Wilson delivered
    himself of these opinions about
  • 21:34 - 21:39
    Richard II before a group
    of scholars in Germany in 1939
  • 21:39 - 21:42
    is,
    after all, rather interesting.
  • 21:42 - 21:46
    Hitler is about to be the
    Bolingbroke of Germany.
  • 21:46 - 21:48
    John Dover Wilson wants his
    audience to say,
  • 21:48 - 21:50
    "Hey, wait a minute.
  • 21:50 - 21:52
    Stick with vested authority.
  • 21:52 - 21:53
    >
  • 21:53 - 21:55
    You have a weak democracy,
    but it is a democracy.
  • 21:55 - 21:58
    Don't let it get away from
    you."
  • 21:58 - 22:02
    And so he is speaking,
    the horse already having
  • 22:02 - 22:07
    escaped from the barn,
    in this reassuring way about
  • 22:07 - 22:13
    German politics as a means of
    sort of reinforcing his own view
  • 22:13 - 22:16
    of the politics of Elizabethan
    England.
  • 22:16 - 22:21
    But this, Greenblatt supposes,
    is something about which he has
  • 22:21 - 22:23
    very little self-consciousness.
  • 22:23 - 22:26
    That is to say,
    his own interest,
  • 22:26 - 22:30
    as of course it should be on
    this occasion,
  • 22:30 - 22:33
    is in the preservation of
    vested authority,
  • 22:33 - 22:39
    and his own interest then folds
    back into his understanding of
  • 22:39 - 22:44
    Elizabethan ideology in such a
    way that it can conform to that
  • 22:44 - 22:45
    interest.
  • 22:45 - 22:50
    He has, in other words,
    as we say today,
  • 22:50 - 22:55
    a hidden agenda and is very
    little aware of it,
  • 22:55 - 22:59
    unlike the New Historicist who,
    following Gadamer in this
  • 22:59 - 23:03
    respect,
    is fully cognizant of the
  • 23:03 - 23:08
    subjective investment that leads
    to a choice of interest in
  • 23:08 - 23:12
    materials,
    a way of thinking about those
  • 23:12 - 23:15
    materials,
    and a means of bringing them to
  • 23:15 - 23:19
    life for us today and into
    focus.
  • 23:19 - 23:22
    In other words,
    it's okay for Greenblatt,
  • 23:22 - 23:25
    as it was for Gadamer--much to
    the horror of E.
  • 23:25 - 23:26
    D.
  • 23:26 - 23:29
    Hirsch--to find the
    significance of a text,
  • 23:29 - 23:32
    as opposed to the meaning of a
    text.
  • 23:32 - 23:37
    The significance of the text is
    that it has certain kinds of
  • 23:37 - 23:39
    power invested in it.
  • 23:39 - 23:43
    Those kinds of power are still
    of interest to us today,
  • 23:43 - 23:48
    still of relevance to what's
    going on in our own world.
  • 23:48 - 23:52
    All of this is taken up openly
    as a matter of
  • 23:52 - 23:57
    self-consciousness by the New
    Historicists in ways that,
  • 23:57 - 24:00
    according to Greenblatt and his
    colleagues,
  • 24:00 - 24:06
    were not available consciously
    in the older Historicism.
  • 24:06 - 24:11
    Now the world as the New
    Historicism sees it--
  • 24:11 - 24:16
    and after I've said this,
    I'll turn to McGann--
  • 24:16 - 24:23
    is essentially a dynamic
    interplay of power,
  • 24:23 - 24:26
    networks of power,
    and subversion:
  • 24:26 - 24:30
    that is to say,
    modes of challenging those
  • 24:30 - 24:34
    networks even within the
    authoritative texts that
  • 24:34 - 24:37
    generate positions of power.
  • 24:37 - 24:40
    The Elizabethan masque,
    for example,
  • 24:40 - 24:46
    which stages the relation of
    court to courtier,
  • 24:46 - 24:53
    to visitor, to hanger-on in
    wonderfully orchestrated ways,
  • 24:53 - 24:58
    is a means--because it's kind
    of poly-vocal--
  • 24:58 - 25:04
    of containing within its
    structure elements of
  • 25:04 - 25:07
    subversion,
    according to the argument
  • 25:07 - 25:11
    that's made about these things:
    the same with court ritual
  • 25:11 - 25:15
    itself,
    the same with the happenstance
  • 25:15 - 25:20
    that takes place once a year in
    early modern England,
  • 25:20 - 25:26
    in which the Lord of Misrule is
    so denominated and ordinary
  • 25:26 - 25:31
    authority is turned on its ear
    for one day.
  • 25:31 - 25:35
    Queen for a day,
    as it were, is something that
  • 25:35 - 25:38
    is available to any citizen once
    a year.
  • 25:38 - 25:42
    These are all ways of defusing
    what they,
  • 25:42 - 25:46
    in fact, bring into visibility
    and consciousness--
  • 25:46 - 25:49
    mainly the existence,
    perhaps the inevitable
  • 25:49 - 25:53
    existence,
    of subversion with respect to
  • 25:53 - 25:57
    structures and circulatory
    systems of power.
  • 25:57 - 26:02
    It's this relationship between
    power and subversion that the
  • 26:02 - 26:05
    New Historicism,
    especially in taking up issues
  • 26:05 - 26:11
    of the Early Modern period,
    tends to focus on and to
  • 26:11 - 26:13
    specialize in.
  • 26:13 - 26:19
    Now it's not wholly clear that
    Jerome McGann has ever really
  • 26:19 - 26:23
    thought of himself as a New
    Historicist.
  • 26:23 - 26:26
    He has been so designated by
    others,
  • 26:26 - 26:30
    but I think there is one rather
    important difference in
  • 26:30 - 26:33
    emphasis,
    at least between what he's
  • 26:33 - 26:37
    doing and what Greenblatt and
    his colleagues do in the Early
  • 26:37 - 26:38
    Modern period.
  • 26:38 - 26:43
    McGann doesn't really so much
    stress the reciprocity of
  • 26:43 - 26:45
    history and discourse.
  • 26:45 - 26:50
    He is interested in the
    presence of history,
  • 26:50 - 26:55
    the presence of immediate
    social and also personal
  • 26:55 - 26:59
    circumstances in the history of
    a text.
  • 26:59 - 27:04
    His primary concern is with--at
    least in this essay--textual
  • 27:04 - 27:05
    scholarship.
  • 27:05 - 27:11
    He himself is the editor of the
    new standard works of Byron.
  • 27:11 - 27:14
    He has also done a standard
    works of Swinburne,
  • 27:14 - 27:19
    and he has been a vocal and
    colorful spokesperson of a
  • 27:19 - 27:23
    certain point of view within the
    recondite debates of textual
  • 27:23 - 27:28
    scholarship: whether textual
    scholarship ought to produce a
  • 27:28 - 27:33
    text that's an amalgam of a
    variety of available manuscripts
  • 27:33 - 27:37
    and printed texts;
    whether the text it produces
  • 27:37 - 27:40
    ought to be the last and best
    thoughts of the author--
  • 27:40 - 27:44
    that's the position that McGann
    seems to be taking in this
  • 27:44 - 27:46
    essay--
    or whether the text,
  • 27:46 - 27:49
    on the contrary,
    ought to be the first burst of
  • 27:49 - 27:51
    inspiration of the author.
  • 27:51 - 27:54
    All the people who prefer the
    earliest versions of
  • 27:54 - 27:56
    Wordsworth's Prelude,
    for example,
  • 27:56 - 27:59
    would favor that last point of
    view.
  • 27:59 - 28:02
    In other words,
    McGann is making a contribution
  • 28:02 - 28:07
    here not least to the debates
    surrounding editing and the
  • 28:07 - 28:11
    production of authoritative
    scholarly texts.
  • 28:11 - 28:15
    It's in that context that the
    remarks he's making about Keats
  • 28:15 - 28:17
    have to be understood.
  • 28:17 - 28:21
    I think the primary influence
    on McGann is not so much
  • 28:21 - 28:25
    Foucault,
    then, with the sense of the
  • 28:25 - 28:30
    circulation of power back and
    forth between history and
  • 28:30 - 28:34
    literary discourse,
    as it is Bakhtin,
  • 28:34 - 28:38
    whom he quotes on pages
    eighteen and nineteen;
  • 28:38 - 28:41
    or whose influence he cites,
    I should say rather,
  • 28:41 - 28:44
    in a way that,
    I think, does pervade what you
  • 28:44 - 28:47
    encounter in reading what he
    then goes on to say at the
  • 28:47 - 28:51
    bottom of page eighteen in the
    copy center reader:
  • 28:51 - 28:55
    What follows [says McGann]
    is a summary and extrapolation
  • 28:55 - 28:59
    of certain key ideas set forth
    by the so-called Bakhtin School
  • 28:59 - 29:02
    of criticism,
    a small group of Marxist
  • 29:02 - 29:06
    critics from the Soviet Union
    who made an early attack upon
  • 29:06 - 29:09
    formalist approaches to poetry
    [just as he,
  • 29:09 - 29:13
    McGann, is, and as the New
    Historicists are themselves,
  • 29:13 - 29:15
    in their turn, doing].
  • 29:15 - 29:18
    The Bakhtin School's
    socio-historical method
  • 29:18 - 29:21
    approaches all language
    utterances--
  • 29:21 - 29:25
    including poems--as phenomena
    marked with their concrete
  • 29:25 - 29:26
    origins and history.
  • 29:26 - 29:30
    That is to say,
    phenomena voiced by the
  • 29:30 - 29:36
    material circumstances that
    produce them or phenomena,
  • 29:36 - 29:40
    in other words,
    in which the voice of the
  • 29:40 - 29:46
    Romantic solitary individual is
    not really that voice at all,
  • 29:46 - 29:51
    but is rather the polyglossal
    infusion of a variety of
  • 29:51 - 29:54
    perspectives,
    including ideological
  • 29:54 - 29:57
    perspectives,
    shaping that particular
  • 29:57 - 30:01
    utterance and also,
    in the case of the textual
  • 30:01 - 30:04
    scholar,
    shaping which of a variety of
  • 30:04 - 30:09
    manuscripts will be chosen for
    publication and for central
  • 30:09 - 30:15
    attention in the tradition of
    the reception of a given text.
  • 30:15 - 30:22
    So all of this McGann takes to
    be derived from Bakhtin rather
  • 30:22 - 30:25
    than from Foucault.
  • 30:25 - 30:28
    I do think that's a significant
    difference between our two
  • 30:28 - 30:29
    authors.
  • 30:29 - 30:34
    Now McGann's most important
    contribution to the return to
  • 30:34 - 30:40
    history of the seventies and
    eighties is a short book called
  • 30:40 - 30:45
    The Romantic Ideology,
    and this book--well,
  • 30:45 - 30:47
    what it is is an attack on
    Romanticism.
  • 30:47 - 30:51
    At least it's an attack on
    certain widely understood and
  • 30:51 - 30:53
    received ideas about
    Romanticism--
  • 30:53 - 30:56
    ideas with which,
    by the way, I don't agree,
  • 30:56 - 30:58
    but this course isn't about me.
  • 30:58 - 31:03
    The Romantic Ideology is
    an amalgam of two titles.
  • 31:03 - 31:07
    One of them is the important
    early critique of Romanticism by
  • 31:07 - 31:11
    the German poet and sometime
    Romantic Heinrich Heine called
  • 31:11 - 31:16
    Die romantische Schule,
    or The Romantic School,
  • 31:16 - 31:20
    in which the subjectivity,
    even solipsism,
  • 31:20 - 31:26
    and the isolation from social
    concern and from unfolding
  • 31:26 - 31:32
    historical processes of the
    Romantic poets is emphasized and
  • 31:32 - 31:34
    criticized.
  • 31:34 - 31:36
    In addition to that--that's
    where the word
  • 31:36 - 31:39
    "Romantic"
    comes from in the title The
  • 31:39 - 31:42
    Romantic Ideology--
    the other title that it
  • 31:42 - 31:46
    amalgamates is Marx's book
    The German Ideology,
  • 31:46 - 31:49
    which is about many things
    but is in particular about
  • 31:49 - 31:53
    Lumpenproletariat
    intellectuals who think with
  • 31:53 - 31:55
    Hegel--
    still following Hegel despite
  • 31:55 - 31:58
    believing themselves to be
    progressive--
  • 31:58 - 32:01
    who think with Hegel that
    thought produces material
  • 32:01 - 32:04
    circumstances rather than the
    other way around:
  • 32:04 - 32:08
    in other words people,
    in short, who are idealists and
  • 32:08 - 32:11
    therefore,
    under this indictment,
  • 32:11 - 32:12
    also Romantic.
  • 32:12 - 32:16
    McGann's title,
    as I say, cleverly amalgamates
  • 32:16 - 32:21
    these two other titles and sets
    the agenda for this short book,
  • 32:21 - 32:26
    which is an attack not just on
    Romanticism but on what he
  • 32:26 - 32:30
    believes to be our continued
    tendency still to be
  • 32:30 - 32:32
    "in"
    Romanticism,
  • 32:32 - 32:34
    still to be Romantic.
  • 32:34 - 32:39
    There his particular object of
    attack is the so-called Yale
  • 32:39 - 32:44
    school, which is still under
    attack in the essay that you've
  • 32:44 - 32:45
    read for today.
  • 32:45 - 32:50
    Paul de Man and Geoffrey
    Hartman's well-known essay on
  • 32:50 - 32:54
    Keats's "To Autumn"
    are singled out for particular
  • 32:54 - 33:00
    scorn and dispraise,
    all sort of on the grounds that
  • 33:00 - 33:02
    yes,
    it's all very well to read
  • 33:02 - 33:04
    Romanticism,
    to come to understand it,
  • 33:04 - 33:06
    and even to be fascinated by
    it;
  • 33:06 - 33:09
    but we can't be Romantic.
  • 33:09 - 33:11
    In other words,
    our reading of Romanticism--
  • 33:11 - 33:15
    if we are to be social animals,
    politically engaged,
  • 33:15 - 33:21
    and invested in the world as a
    social community--
  • 33:21 - 33:25
    must necessarily be an
    anti-Romantic critique.
  • 33:25 - 33:28
    This is, as I say,
    still essentially the position
  • 33:28 - 33:29
    taken up by McGann.
  • 33:29 - 33:34
  • 33:34 - 33:35
    All right.
  • 33:35 - 33:39
    So I've explained the ways in
    which he differs from Greenblatt
  • 33:39 - 33:43
    in leaning more toward Bakhtin
    than toward Foucault.
  • 33:43 - 33:48
    I have explained that McGann is
    engaged primarily in talking
  • 33:48 - 33:52
    about issues of textual
    scholarship in this particular
  • 33:52 - 33:55
    essay,
    that he defends Keats's last
  • 33:55 - 33:58
    deliberate choices,
    that he believes the so-called
  • 33:58 - 34:02
    "indicator"
    text of 1820 of "La Belle
  • 34:02 - 34:05
    Dame Sans Merci"
    is Keats's last deliberate
  • 34:05 - 34:08
    choice,
    as opposed to the 1848 text
  • 34:08 - 34:14
    published by Monckton Milnes in
    the edition of Keats's poems
  • 34:14 - 34:17
    that he brought out at that
    time.
  • 34:17 - 34:23
    Now I think that in the time
    remaining to sort of linger over
  • 34:23 - 34:30
    McGann, I do want to say a few
    things about what he says about
  • 34:30 - 34:31
    Keats.
  • 34:31 - 34:37
    I want to emphasize that his
    general pronouncements about the
  • 34:37 - 34:42
    historicity of texts,
    about the permeation of texts
  • 34:42 - 34:46
    by the circumstances of their
    production,
  • 34:46 - 34:50
    their conditioning by
    ideological factors,
  • 34:50 - 34:52
    is unimpeachable.
  • 34:52 - 34:56
    It seems to me that this is a
    necessary approach at least to
  • 34:56 - 34:59
    have in mind if not,
    perhaps, necessarily to
  • 34:59 - 35:03
    emphasize in one's own work of
    literary scholarship.
  • 35:03 - 35:07
    The idea that a text just falls
    from a tree--if anybody ever had
  • 35:07 - 35:11
    that idea, by the way
    >
  • 35:11 - 35:17
    --is plainly not a tenable one,
    and the opposite idea that a
  • 35:17 - 35:23
    text emerges from a complex
    matrix of social and historical
  • 35:23 - 35:27
    circumstances is certainly a
    good one.
  • 35:27 - 35:31
    So if one is to criticize,
    again it's not a question of
  • 35:31 - 35:33
    criticizing his basic
    pronouncements.
  • 35:33 - 35:37
    It seems to me nothing could be
    said really against them.
  • 35:37 - 35:40
    The trouble is that in the case
    of McGann--
  • 35:40 - 35:45
    who is a terrific,
    prominent Romantic scholar with
  • 35:45 - 35:48
    whom one,
    I suppose, hesitates to
  • 35:48 - 35:52
    disagree--everything he says
    about the text that he isolates
  • 35:52 - 35:56
    for attention in this essay is
    simply,
  • 35:56 - 35:57
    consistently, wrong.
  • 35:57 - 36:03
    It's almost as if by compulsion
    that he says things that are
  • 36:03 - 36:07
    wrong about these texts,
    and the reason I asked you in
  • 36:07 - 36:11
    my e-mail last night to take a
    look at them,
  • 36:11 - 36:15
    if you get a chance,
    is so that these few remarks
  • 36:15 - 36:19
    that I make now might have some
    substance.
  • 36:19 - 36:22
    Take for example "La Belle
    Dame Sans Merci."
  • 36:22 - 36:26
  • 36:26 - 36:30
    In the first place,
    who says we only read
  • 36:30 - 36:32
    the 1848 text?
  • 36:32 - 36:37
    A scholarly edition--and his
    main object of attack is Jack
  • 36:37 - 36:42
    Stillinger's scholarly edition
    of Keats--gives you basically a
  • 36:42 - 36:44
    variorum apparatus.
  • 36:44 - 36:48
    Yeah, maybe it gives you a
    particular text in bold print,
  • 36:48 - 36:52
    but it gives you the variant
    text in smaller print in a
  • 36:52 - 36:53
    footnote.
  • 36:53 - 36:56
    It doesn't withhold the variant
    text from you.
  • 36:56 - 36:59
    It says, "No,
    look, there's this too.
  • 36:59 - 37:01
    Take your choice."
  • 37:01 - 37:05
    Really the atmosphere of a
    variorum scholarly edition is an
  • 37:05 - 37:09
    atmosphere of take your choice,
    not a kind of tyrannical
  • 37:09 - 37:15
    imposition on the public of a
    particular version of the text.
  • 37:15 - 37:19
    Everybody knows the 1820
    Indicator text.
  • 37:19 - 37:21
    "What can ail thee,
    wretched wight?"
  • 37:21 - 37:24
    is at least as familiar to me,
    as a Romanticist,
  • 37:24 - 37:27
    as "What can ail thee,
    knight at arms?"
  • 37:27 - 37:29
    the way in which the 1848 text
    begins;
  • 37:29 - 37:33
    and frankly how many people who
    aren't Romanticists know
  • 37:33 - 37:35
    anything about either text?
  • 37:35 - 37:37
    What are we talking about here?
  • 37:37 - 37:39
    >
  • 37:39 - 37:42
    The Romanticists know what's
    going on.
  • 37:42 - 37:45
    They're not in any way
    hornswoggled by this historical
  • 37:45 - 37:48
    conspiracy against the 1820
    indicator text,
  • 37:48 - 37:51
    and people who aren't
    Romanticists don't care.
  • 37:51 - 37:55
    That's what it comes down to;
    but, if it's not enough simply
  • 37:55 - 37:59
    to say that, turning to the
    question of which text is
  • 37:59 - 38:02
    better--well,
    it's hard to say which text is
  • 38:02 - 38:03
    better.
  • 38:03 - 38:07
    McGann's argument is that the
    1820 version is better because
  • 38:07 - 38:11
    it's a poem about a guy and a
    girl who sort of meet,
  • 38:11 - 38:14
    and the next thing you know
    they're having sex and that
  • 38:14 - 38:16
    doesn't turn out so well.
  • 38:16 - 38:18
    In other words,
    it's about the real world.
  • 38:18 - 38:20
    These things happen.
  • 38:20 - 38:23
    It's not a romance,
    whereas the "What can ail
  • 38:23 - 38:25
    thee, wretched knight?"
  • 38:25 - 38:30
    in the 1848 version--and all of
    its other variants,
  • 38:30 - 38:31
    the "kisses four"
    and so on--
  • 38:31 - 38:38
    the 1848 version is a kind of
    unselfconscious--
  • 38:38 - 38:42
    in McGann's view--romance
    subscribing to certain medieval
  • 38:42 - 38:47
    ideas about women,
    simultaneously putting them on
  • 38:47 - 38:50
    a pedestal and fearing,
    at the same time,
  • 38:50 - 38:55
    that they're invested with a
    kind of black magic which
  • 38:55 - 39:00
    destroys the souls and
    dissipates the sap of deserving
  • 39:00 - 39:04
    young gentlemen:
    all of this is ideologically
  • 39:04 - 39:07
    programmed,
    according to McGann,
  • 39:07 - 39:09
    in the 1848 version.
  • 39:09 - 39:10
    Why?
  • 39:10 - 39:13
    Because Charles Brown behaved
    despicably toward women,
  • 39:13 - 39:16
    he didn't like Fanny Brawne,
    and because Monckton Milnes,
  • 39:16 - 39:19
    the actual editor of the 1848
    edition,
  • 39:19 - 39:24
    loved pornography and was a big
    collector of erotica.
  • 39:24 - 39:32
    So that's why the 1848 text
    with its fear of and denigration
  • 39:32 - 39:39
    of women, in contrast to the
    1820 text, is inferior.
  • 39:39 - 39:42
    Well, two things:
    first of all,
  • 39:42 - 39:47
    who's to say the 1848 text
    wasn't Keats's last thoughts?
  • 39:47 - 39:50
    In other words,
    yes, he was already ill when
  • 39:50 - 39:53
    the Indicator text was
    published in 1820.
  • 39:53 - 39:56
    It is pretty close to the end
    of his ability to think clearly
  • 39:56 - 40:00
    about his own work and to worry
    very much about the forms in
  • 40:00 - 40:04
    which it was published,
    but at the same time we don't
  • 40:04 - 40:08
    know when Brown received his
    version of the text.
  • 40:08 - 40:10
    We can't suppose,
    as McGann more than half
  • 40:10 - 40:13
    implies, that Brown just sort of
    sat down and rewrote it.
  • 40:13 - 40:15
    >
  • 40:15 - 40:18
    Nobody has ever really said
    that, and if he didn't rewrite
  • 40:18 - 40:22
    it, then Keats must have given
    it to him in that form.
  • 40:22 - 40:26
    Who's to say that wasn't his
    last and best thoughts?
  • 40:26 - 40:28
    Who's to say Keats didn't
    really want to write a poem of
  • 40:28 - 40:29
    this kind?
  • 40:29 - 40:34
    After all, the title,
    taken from a medieval ballad by
  • 40:34 - 40:38
    Alain Chartier,
    "La Belle Dame Sans
  • 40:38 - 40:43
    Merci," bears out the
    "What can ail thee,
  • 40:43 - 40:44
    knight at arms?" version.
  • 40:44 - 40:47
    It's about a Morgan Le Fay-type.
  • 40:47 - 40:50
    For better or worse,
    whatever we think of that
  • 40:50 - 40:52
    ideologically,
    it is about,
  • 40:52 - 40:59
    if the title is right,
    the kind of woman who is evoked
  • 40:59 - 41:03
    in the 1848 version,
    as opposed to the kind of woman
  • 41:03 - 41:05
    who is evoked in the 1820
    version.
  • 41:05 - 41:08
    So the 1848 version is simply
    more consistent with the title.
  • 41:08 - 41:12
    That's one point to be made,
    but the additional point to be
  • 41:12 - 41:15
    made is that taking advantage of
    the New Historicist
  • 41:15 - 41:18
    acknowledgement that one's own
    subjectivity,
  • 41:18 - 41:23
    one's own historical horizon,
    is properly in play in thinking
  • 41:23 - 41:27
    about these things,
    McGann is then able to infuse
  • 41:27 - 41:32
    Keats's text and therefore
    Keats's intentions with a
  • 41:32 - 41:36
    pleasing political correctness.
  • 41:36 - 41:38
    That is to say,
    Keats can't possibly have
  • 41:38 - 41:41
    thought in that demeaning way
    about women.
  • 41:41 - 41:43
    By the way, everything-- I like
    Keats,
  • 41:43 - 41:46
    but everything in his letters
    suggests that he did--
  • 41:46 - 41:49
    but back to McGann:
    Keats can't possibly have
  • 41:49 - 41:53
    thought in that demeaning way
    about women.
  • 41:53 - 41:58
    Therefore, the 1820 text is the
    text that he intended and
  • 41:58 - 41:59
    preferred.
  • 41:59 - 42:01
    Okay.
  • 42:01 - 42:04
    That, of course,
    makes Keats more consistent
  • 42:04 - 42:07
    with our own standards and our
    own view of the relations
  • 42:07 - 42:10
    between the sexes,
    but does it,
  • 42:10 - 42:12
    in other words,
    make sense
  • 42:12 - 42:16
    vis-à-vis the
    Keats whom we know and,
  • 42:16 - 42:20
    despite his weaknesses and
    shortcomings,
  • 42:20 - 42:20
    love?
  • 42:20 - 42:23
    There is a great deal,
    in other words,
  • 42:23 - 42:29
    to be said over against
    McGann's assertions about this
  • 42:29 - 42:33
    textual issue,
    not necessarily in defense of
  • 42:33 - 42:37
    the 1848 text but agnostically
    with respect to the two of them,
  • 42:37 - 42:40
    saying, "Yeah,
    we'd better have both of them.
  • 42:40 - 42:42
    We'd better put them
    side-by-side.
  • 42:42 - 42:47
    We'd better read them together;
    but if by some fiat the 1820
  • 42:47 - 42:51
    were somehow subsequently
    preferred to the 1848,
  • 42:51 - 42:57
    that would be every bit as much
    of an historical misfortune as
  • 42:57 - 43:01
    the preference,
    insofar as it has actually
  • 43:01 - 43:06
    existed,
    of the 1848 or the 1820."
  • 43:06 - 43:09
    I think that's the perspective
    one wants to take.
  • 43:09 - 43:12
    Now I was going to talk about
    "To Autumn."
  • 43:12 - 43:15
    I'll only say about his reading
    of "To Autumn"
  • 43:15 - 43:17
    that McGann,
    who doesn't seem to like the
  • 43:17 - 43:20
    poem very much--
    he likes "La Belle Dame
  • 43:20 - 43:22
    Sans Merci,"
    so he makes it politically
  • 43:22 - 43:22
    correct.
  • 43:22 - 43:25
    He doesn't like "To
    Autumn" because he thinks
  • 43:25 - 43:28
    that "Autumn"
    was published in collusion with
  • 43:28 - 43:31
    Keats's conservative friends in
    the Poems of 1820,
  • 43:31 - 43:34
    which bowdlerized everything he
    had to say of a progressive
  • 43:34 - 43:36
    political nature.
  • 43:36 - 43:38
    He thinks that "To
    Autumn" is a big sellout,
  • 43:38 - 43:40
    in other words,
    and that yes,
  • 43:40 - 43:43
    1819 happened to be a year of
    good harvest,
  • 43:43 - 43:46
    and so Keats turns that year of
    good harvest into something
  • 43:46 - 43:49
    permanent,
    into a kind of cloud
  • 43:49 - 43:53
    cuckoo-land in which the fruit
    falls into your basket and the
  • 43:53 - 43:57
    fish jump into your net and
    everything is just perfect.
  • 43:57 - 43:59
    Well, do you think the poem is
    really like that?
  • 43:59 - 44:02
    You've read the third stanza,
    which McGann totally ignores
  • 44:02 - 44:05
    apart from "Where are the
    songs of Spring?
  • 44:05 - 44:06
    Ay, where are they?"
  • 44:06 - 44:08
    In other words,
    he gives you the opening but he
  • 44:08 - 44:11
    doesn't give you any sense of
    the rest of the stanza,
  • 44:11 - 44:14
    because for him "To
    Autumn" is all about the
  • 44:14 - 44:15
    first stanza.
  • 44:15 - 44:19
    For him, Keats seems to
    identify with the bees who think
  • 44:19 - 44:23
    warm days will never cease,
    "for Summer has
  • 44:23 - 44:25
    o'er-brimmed their clammy
    cells."
  • 44:25 - 44:27
    Keats is like a bee.
  • 44:27 - 44:28
    He's all into the sensuous.
  • 44:28 - 44:32
    Well, again just in terms of
    historical evidence,
  • 44:32 - 44:36
    this is outmoded by at least
    eighteen months if we consult
  • 44:36 - 44:37
    Keats's letters.
  • 44:37 - 44:40
    He was like that early in his
    career,
  • 44:40 - 44:44
    but he has had severe
    misgivings about a point of view
  • 44:44 - 44:48
    which is represented in what he
    said in an early letter:
  • 44:48 - 44:51
    "Oh,
    for a life of sensations rather
  • 44:51 - 44:53
    than thoughts…"
    That's no longer Keats's
  • 44:53 - 44:56
    position when writing "To
    Autumn."
  • 44:56 - 44:59
    Keats's position when writing
    "To Autumn"
  • 44:59 - 45:02
    is the position of a guy who
    has a sore throat just as his
  • 45:02 - 45:06
    tubercular brother did,
    who is increasingly afraid that
  • 45:06 - 45:10
    he's going to die soon and is
    trying to confront mortality in
  • 45:10 - 45:14
    writing what is in fact--
    and I say "in fact"
  • 45:14 - 45:17
    advisedly--
    the most perfect lyric ever
  • 45:17 - 45:22
    written in the English language,
    and which is most certainly not
  • 45:22 - 45:27
    a celebration of sort of
    wandering around like an aimless
  • 45:27 - 45:29
    bee,
    thinking that the autumn is
  • 45:29 - 45:31
    perfect but that autumn is
    always perfect,
  • 45:31 - 45:35
    that warm days will never
    cease, and that everything is
  • 45:35 - 45:37
    just lovely in the garden.
  • 45:37 - 45:41
    It is not that kind of poem,
    and it's really a travesty of
  • 45:41 - 45:45
    it to suppose that it is simply
    on the grounds that it was
  • 45:45 - 45:49
    published in the Poems of
    1820 as a kind of sellout to the
  • 45:49 - 45:54
    establishment under the advice
    of Keats's conservative friends.
  • 45:54 - 45:55
    All right.
  • 45:55 - 45:59
    So much then for McGann's
    remarks on Keats,
  • 45:59 - 46:03
    which I want to say again in no
    way impugn or undermine the
  • 46:03 - 46:08
    general validity of the claims
    that he's making about taking
  • 46:08 - 46:11
    historical circumstances into
    account.
  • 46:11 - 46:14
    Precisely, we need to take them
    into account and we need to get
  • 46:14 - 46:15
    them right.
  • 46:15 - 46:18
    That's the challenge,
    of course, of working with
  • 46:18 - 46:20
    historical circumstances.
  • 46:20 - 46:23
    You have to get it right.
  • 46:23 - 46:27
    With that said,
    let me turn quickly to a review
  • 46:27 - 46:32
    of Tony from Bakhtin to
    the New Historicism.
  • 46:32 - 46:35
    I may glide over Tony
    according to Jameson,
  • 46:35 - 46:39
    because we did that at the end
    of the last lecture,
  • 46:39 - 46:41
    so let me go back to Bakhtin.
  • 46:41 - 46:45
    You can see the way in which in
    the structure of Tony the Tow
  • 46:45 - 46:48
    Truck the first part of the
    poem is absolutely saturated
  • 46:48 - 46:51
    with the first person singular:
    I do this,
  • 46:51 - 46:55
    I do that, I like my job,
    I am stuck-- I,
  • 46:55 - 46:56
    I, I, I.
  • 46:56 - 46:58
    Then as you read along through
    the text you see that the
  • 46:58 - 47:00
    "I"
    disappears,
  • 47:00 - 47:03
    or if it still appears,
    it's in the middle of a line
  • 47:03 - 47:05
    rather than at the beginning of
    a line.
  • 47:05 - 47:07
    In other words,
    the "I,"
  • 47:07 - 47:10
    the subjectivity,
    the first person singular,
  • 47:10 - 47:13
    the sense of having a unique
    voice--
  • 47:13 - 47:19
    this is gradually subsumed by
    the sociality of the story as it
  • 47:19 - 47:20
    unfolds.
  • 47:20 - 47:25
    I am no longer "I"
    defined as a Romantic
  • 47:25 - 47:26
    individual.
  • 47:26 - 47:29
    I am "I,"
    rather defined as a friend--
  • 47:29 - 47:33
    that is to say,
    as a person whose relation with
  • 47:33 - 47:36
    otherness is what constitutes
    his identity,
  • 47:36 - 47:38
    and in that mutuality of
    friendship,
  • 47:38 - 47:41
    the first person singular
    disappears.
  • 47:41 - 47:44
    What is spoken in Tony the
    Tow Truck, in other
  • 47:44 - 47:46
    words,
    in the long run is not the
  • 47:46 - 47:51
    voice of individual subjectivity
    but the voice of social
  • 47:51 - 47:56
    togetherness,
    the voice of otherness.
  • 47:56 - 47:59
    According to Jauss,
    the important thing about
  • 47:59 - 48:02
    Tony the Tow Truck is
    that it is not the same story as
  • 48:02 - 48:04
    The Little Engine that Could.
  • 48:04 - 48:08
    In other words,
    in each generation of
  • 48:08 - 48:12
    reception, the aesthetic
    standards that prevail at a
  • 48:12 - 48:16
    given time are reconsidered and
    rethought, reshuffled.
  • 48:16 - 48:20
    A new aesthetic horizon
    emerges, and texts are
  • 48:20 - 48:25
    constituted in a different way,
    much also as the Russian
  • 48:25 - 48:29
    formalists have said,
    only with the sense in Jauss of
  • 48:29 - 48:30
    the historical imperative.
  • 48:30 - 48:35
    The Little Engine that Could
    is all about the inversion
  • 48:35 - 48:38
    of power between the little guy
    and the big guy,
  • 48:38 - 48:42
    so that the little guy helps
    the big guy and that is
  • 48:42 - 48:45
    unequivocal,
    showing, as in Isaiah in
  • 48:45 - 48:48
    the Bible,
    that the valleys have been
  • 48:48 - 48:52
    raised and the mountains have
    been made low.
  • 48:52 - 48:54
    That's not the way Tony the
    Tow Truck works.
  • 48:54 - 48:57
    The little guy himself needs
    help.
  • 48:57 - 49:00
    He needs the help of another
    little guy.
  • 49:00 - 49:04
    There is a reciprocity not
    dialectically between little and
  • 49:04 - 49:08
    big,
    but a mutual reinforcement of
  • 49:08 - 49:11
    little-by-little,
    and that is the change in
  • 49:11 - 49:16
    aesthetic horizon that one can
    witness between The Little
  • 49:16 - 49:20
    Engine that Could and
    Tony the Tow Truck.
  • 49:20 - 49:24
    In Benjamin the important
    thing, as I think we've said,
  • 49:24 - 49:27
    is the idea that the
    narrator is the apparatus.
  • 49:27 - 49:31
    The humanization of a
    mechanized world,
  • 49:31 - 49:37
    through our identification with
    it, is what takes place in
  • 49:37 - 49:40
    Tony the Tow Truck.
  • 49:40 - 49:42
    In other words,
    all these cars and trucks,
  • 49:42 - 49:45
    all these smiling and frowning
    houses,
  • 49:45 - 49:50
    of course, have as their common
    denominator their non-humanity,
  • 49:50 - 49:55
    but the anthropomorphization of
    the cars and trucks and of the
  • 49:55 - 49:58
    houses constitutes them as the
    human.
  • 49:58 - 50:00
    They are precisely the human.
  • 50:00 - 50:02
    We see things,
    in other words,
  • 50:02 - 50:04
    from the point of view of the
    apparatus.
  • 50:04 - 50:08
    Just as the filmgoer sees
    things from the point of view of
  • 50:08 - 50:11
    the camera,
    so we see Tony the Tow Truck
  • 50:11 - 50:13
    from the point of view of
    the tow truck,
  • 50:13 - 50:14
    right?
  • 50:14 - 50:17
    And what happens?
  • 50:17 - 50:22
    Just as the camera eye point of
    view leaves that which is seen,
  • 50:22 - 50:25
    as Benjamin puts it,
    "equipment-free"--
  • 50:25 - 50:29
    so, oddly enough,
    if we see things from the
  • 50:29 - 50:33
    standpoint of equipment,
    what we look at is the moral of
  • 50:33 - 50:37
    the story: in other words,
    the humanity of the story.
  • 50:37 - 50:40
    What we see,
    in other words,
  • 50:40 - 50:44
    surrounded by all of this
    equipment, is precisely the
  • 50:44 - 50:47
    equipment-free human aspect of
    reality.
  • 50:47 - 50:50
    So Tony the Tow Truck
    works in a way that is
  • 50:50 - 50:53
    consistent with Benjamin's
    theory of mechanical
  • 50:53 - 50:54
    reproduction.
  • 50:54 - 50:58
    For Adorno, however,
    the acquiescence of this very
  • 50:58 - 51:01
    figure--
    the apparatus of mechanical
  • 51:01 - 51:06
    reproduction,
    of towing again and again and
  • 51:06 - 51:10
    again--
    in the inequity of class
  • 51:10 - 51:15
    relations,
    rejected as always by Neato and
  • 51:15 - 51:19
    Speedy,
    proves that the apparatus which
  • 51:19 - 51:24
    Benjamin's theory takes to be
    independent of the machinations
  • 51:24 - 51:29
    of the culture industry,
    that the apparatus in turn can
  • 51:29 - 51:35
    be suborned and commandeered by
    the culture industry for its own
  • 51:35 - 51:36
    purposes.
  • 51:36 - 51:36
    All right.
  • 51:36 - 51:38
    I will skip over Jameson.
  • 51:38 - 51:46
    The Old Historicist reading of
    Tony simply reconfirms a
  • 51:46 - 51:51
    status quo in which virtue is
    clear,
  • 51:51 - 51:55
    vice is clear,
    both are uncontested,
  • 51:55 - 51:58
    and nothing changes--in other
    words,
  • 51:58 - 52:02
    a status quo which reflects a
    stagnant,
  • 52:02 - 52:06
    existent, unchanging social
    dynamic.
  • 52:06 - 52:09
    The New Historicism in a lot of
    ways is doing this,
  • 52:09 - 52:12
    but let me just conclude by
    suggesting that if literature
  • 52:12 - 52:16
    influences history,
    Tony the Tow Truck might
  • 52:16 - 52:20
    well explain why today we're
    promoting fuel-efficient cars,
  • 52:20 - 52:26
    why the attack on the gas
    guzzler and the SUV or minivan--
  • 52:26 - 52:32
    remember the car that says
    "I am too busy"--
  • 52:32 - 52:36
    is so prevalent in the story,
    and why if we read today's
  • 52:36 - 52:41
    headlines we need to get rid of
    the Humvee if GM is to prosper,
  • 52:41 - 52:46
    and we need to downsize and
    streamline the available models.
  • 52:46 - 52:49
    The little guys,
    Tony and Bumpy,
  • 52:49 - 52:53
    reaffirm the need for
    fuel-efficient smaller vehicles
  • 52:53 - 52:58
    and you can plainly see that
    Tony the Tow Truck is
  • 52:58 - 53:03
    therefore a discourse that
    produces history.
  • 53:03 - 53:05
    All of this,
    according to the prescription
  • 53:05 - 53:08
    of Tony, is
    actually happening.
  • 53:08 - 53:09
    All right.
  • 53:09 - 53:10
    Thank you very much.
  • 53:10 - 53:14
    One thing that needs to be said
    about Tony the Tow Truck
  • 53:14 - 53:18
    is it has no women in it,
    and that is the issue that
  • 53:18 - 53:21
    we'll be taking up on Thursday.
  • 53:21 -
Titre:
19. The New Historicism
Description:

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry examines the work of two seminal New Historicists, Stephen Greenblatt and Jerome McGann. The origins of New Historicism in Early Modern literary studies are explored, and New Historicism's common strategies, preferred evidence, and literary sites are explored. Greenblatt's reliance on Foucault is juxtaposed with McGann's use of Bakhtin. The lecture concludes with an extensive consideration of the project of editing of Keats's poetry in light of New Historicist concerns.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Origins of New Historicism
06:16 - Chapter 2. The New Historicist Method and Foucault
10:56 - Chapter 3. The Reciprocal Relationship Between History and Discourse
19:24 - Chapter 4. The Historian and Subjectivity
26:12 - Chapter 5. Jerome McGann and Bakhtin
30:28 - Chapter 6. McGann on Keats
45:54 - Chapter 7. Tony the Tow Truck Revisited

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2009.

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Langue de la vidéo:
English
Équipe:
Veduca
Projet :
Introdução à Teoria Literária - Yale
Durée:
53:22
Amara Bot edited Anglais subtitles for 19. The New Historicism
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