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Literary Theories - A Guide: New Historicism

Provides links to a variety of mostly free resource information about various literary theories. The resources are in a variety of formats: Websites, PDF, videos, PowerPoint, RSS feeds, Podcasts, etc.

New Historicism Theorists

  • Michel Foucault
  • Clifford Geertz
  • Hayden White
  • Stephen Greenblatt
  • Pierre Bourdieu


Photo of Danyelle Brandon, a young African American woman with glasses & short hair, standing next to brick building.

Danyelle Brandon is an English graduate student at Bowie State University. She is also a proud sister of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Recently graduating from Kean University in 2013, she has moved her ventures to the DMV area. Now, she is a third grade teacher for a charter school in Washington D.C. enjoying every moment. When Brandon isn't working as a teacher or a cheerleading coach for her school, she likes spending her time dancing and going out with her friends. In the future, she wishes to open her own dance studio that encompasses uplifting children and building strong self-esteem.

What is New Historicism Literary Theory?

Color photo of Stephen Greenblatt. New Historicism is theory that was developed in the 1980s as a counter theory to the formalist New Criticism theory.  Termed coined by Stephen Greenblatt, it is believed history is as important as the text alone.  According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, New Historicism is a method of literary criticism that emphasizes the history of the text by relating it to the configurations of power, society, or ideology in a given time.

New Historicist's study material artifacts that have been influenced by political, social, and cultural societies. Writers such as Michel Foucault, Stephen Greenblatt, Steven Knapp, and Walter Benn Michaels have paved the way for New Historicist's.  The theory often analyzes the author and theme relationship, which the two are compared to the text and how they correlate.  For example, Foucault and Power and Knowledge can be criticized through the New Historicism lens examining his work Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.

New Historicism Video

Recommended Books

Titles with a CALL NUMBER are available to quailified users in Bowie's Thurgood Marshall Library or through the USMAI consortuim of 15 Maryland libraries. 

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