Literary historicism is relatively modern concept of literary theory developed in the 1980s through primary exponent Greenblatt . The underlying basis of literary historicism is the study of literary texts in historical context and an attempt to better understand intellectual history through literature. Leading proponent of the theory Foucault posits that literary historicism provides clues to current association with the world and in this sense the literature of any period can be viewed as indistinguishable from the context in which it is written.
Moreover, literary historicism appears to divide two camps of interpretation. On the one hand, the Marxist driven concept that literature is part of a complex superstructure within which an economic base manifests . Conversely, new literary historicists adopt a variable vision of power in historicist theory with wider social parameters such as Foucault's view of society as consisting of texts relating to other texts with no fixed literary value beyond parameters in which societies apply them to specific situations .
[...] Earl refers specifically to the following point that the battle of Maldon, Byrhtnoth stumbled into one of those rare moments of lordships' terrible responsibility, when even in his highly codified world he was actually free to choose between desperate alternatives, to fight, or not to die or not, to commit his men to death or dare to be more valorous and heroic even than the king. Moreover, heroism is tested against the theme of death and Beowulf embraces fate freely without fear. As such, Foucault argues “this opens a void, a moment of silence, a question without answer, provokes a breach without reconciliation, where the world is forced to question itself”. In conclusion, it is submitted that the themes of loss and suffering clearly dominates Anglo-Saxon literature and thereby highlights Anglo-Saxon cultural norms and beliefs pertaining to loss, fear, death and heroism. [...]
[...] In contrast, whilst the Wanderer clearly follows the paradigm of the “touchstone elegies of the period”, the representation of loss highlights the dichotomy between societal status accorded to men and women in the Anglo-Saxon era. For example, in the Wife's lament, her confinement is juxtaposed with the protagonist in the Wanderer, where the narrator laments his suffering as an exile alone on icy seas. As such, the contrast between the freedom of the open air and sea with the wife's imprisonment underground. [...]
[...] Moreover, these themes of loss and sorrow are further embodied in Beowulf as a consistent element of Anglo-Saxon literature and it submitted that from a cultural perspective, the texts discussed in this analysis highlight the relevance of new historicism in obtaining a better understanding of recurrent themes in human behavior. In depicting the prevalent themes of war, insecurity, fear, complex emotions, loss and heroism are arguably just as pertinent today. Moreover, they highlight the correlation between history and the present self, which further directly links to the psychoanalytical evolutionary development of the self. [...]
[...] (1997) Introduction: Beowulf, truth and meaning. In A Beowulf handbook, eds, Robert E. Bjork and John D Niles, 1-12. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Niles, John D. (1993) Locating Beowulf in Literary History. Exemplaria 5 Bonnie Wheeler (1993). Representations of the feminine in the Middle Ages. Greenblatt, Stephen. (2005). The Greenblatt Reader. Ed: Michael Payne, Oxford. P.2 Foucault, Michel.(1979) Discipline and Punish. Vintage: 222 Felluga, D. (2006) . General Introduction to New Historicism.: 5 Foucault, (1979) op.cit 300 Pat Belanoff Old English Female Lament” in Anne Lingard Klinck & Ann Marie Rasmussen (2002). [...]
[...] Similarly, the Wanderer makes reference to and describes suffering in the past tense to highlight his current anguish. Moreover, the narrator moves from his expression of pain to an account of being in exile, which in turn contrasts with the imprisonment of the Wife's lament in the earth cave. To this end, use of the third person in this section of the poem dilutes the “nowness” inherent within the present tense. The first appearance of par occurs in this description and separates him from the location he is describing”. [...]
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