For today’s class discussion, We talked about New Historical and Cultural Criticism. There are seven main points that we talked about in class, all which are self-explanatory (if they weren’t then the definitions helped to show that). The first main point that we talked about is how New Historicists see history as progressive. Traditionalist see history that everything is improving where New Historicists see that history can either be progressing or regressing.
The second point we covered was that viewing history is a Self-positioning act, or based in a viewpoint. History can never be objective, it is always subjective because the reader uses knowledge that they already have through their own cultural experience. The third main point is that power circulates through a society through exchanges, whether they be animate or inanimate. The fourth point is that there exists a master narrative, that is, a narrative told from a singular point of view that is universally accepted and thought to be accurate (upholds ideologies) and that it is a dynamic and unstable interplay among discourses.
The next two points really tie together. They are subjectivity/selfhood and text/context. These two groups of ideas are mutually constitutive, or they shape and are shaped by society. And the last point was cultural works; how do they function in a culture? What work is it doing? and mainly, who is consuming it?
After we discussed the definitions to all of these terms, we were given examples to see if we could tie New Historical and Cultural Criticism into the literary work. The first example was William Shakespeare’s My Mistress’s Eyes. Personally, I found that this example was challenging. Knowing some of the background to the actual poem, the time period and also to the writer helps when trying to critique from a historical and/or cultural stand point. The second example was easier; It was the recent Dilbert comic strip by Scott Adams. Critiquing a newer work, for me, took less effort because there were obvious difference in both of the works.
Some of the main questions I found myself asking were 1) Why is there such a difference in the cultural aspects from in the early 15th century til now? 2) Since there is such a difference in both, Why do the cultures accept these changes? Like sarcasm, and changes in women (flexibility for work, how much/ what they talk about. ect.), the stimuli that makes people tick (coffee, tea, smoking) 3) Since history is not linear or progressive, What has brought about these major changes in society? and 4) If history can regress, How far?