This essay argues that the critical practice of New Historicism is a mode of “literary” history whose “literariness” lies in bringing imaginative operations closer to the surface of nonliterary texts and briefly describes some of the practice's leading literary features and strategies. I further point out that the ostensible “arbitrary connectedness” (Cohen 1987) of New Historicist writing is in fact aesthetically coded and patterned, both stylistically and in terms of potential semantic correspondences between various representations of the past. I then move on to address the question of why anecdotal evidence features centrally and has come to play a key role in New Historicist writing. Here, I contend that, as components of narrative discourse, anecdotal materials are central in enabling New Historicists to make discernible on the surface of their discourse procedures of meaning production typically found in literary forms. In particular, anecdotal materials are the fragmented“stuff” of historical narratization: they facilitate the shaping of historical events into stories and more or less formalized“facts.” This essay examines how the New Historicist anecdote remodels historical reality “as it might have been,” reviving the way history is experienced and concretely reproduced by contemporary readers of literary history. Finally, the essay confirms how the textual reproduction of anecdotal evidence also enables the New Historicist mode of“literary” history to secure its links to literary artifacts,literary scholarship, and conventional historical discourse.

This content is only available as a PDF.
Armstrong, Paul
2000
“The Politics of Play: The Social Implications of Iser's Aesthetic Theory,”
erary History
31
(1):
211
-23.
Auerbach, Erich
1953
[1946]
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
, translated by Willard Trask (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Bann, Stephen
1984
The Clothing of Clio: A Study of the Representation of History in Nineteenth-Century Britain and France
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Barthes, Roland
1981
[1967] “The Discourse of History,”
Comparative Criticism: A Yearbook
3
:
3
-20.
Blume, Harvey
2001
“Stephen Greenblatt: The Wicked Son” (interview),
Boston Book Review
,June.
Bruss, Elizabeth
1982
Beautiful Theories:The Spectacle of Discourse in Contemporary Theory
(Baltimore, MD:Johns Hopkins University Press).
Burke, Peter
1991
“Overture: The New History,Its Past and Its Future,” in
New Perspectives on Historical Writing
, edited by Peter Burke,
1
-23(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Carrard, Philippe
1992
Poetics of the New History: French Historical Discourse from Braudel to Chartier
(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).
Clifford, James
1985
“On Ethnographic Self-Fashioning: Conrad and Malinowski,” in
Reconstructing Individualism
, edited by Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sonsa, and David E. Wellbery,
140
-62 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).
Cohen, Walter
1987
“Political Criticism of Shakespeare,” in
Shakespeare Reproduced: The Text in History and Ideology
, edited by Jean Howard and Marion O'Connor,
18
-46 (New York: Methuen).
Cousins, Mark
1987
“The Practice of Historical Investigation,” in
Post-Structuralism and the Question of History
, edited by Derek Attridge, Geoff Bennington, and Robert Young,
126
-36 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
de Certeau, Michel
1988
The Writing of History
, translated by Tom Conley (New York: Columbia University Press).
Fineman, Joel
1989
“The History of the Anecdote:Fiction and Fiction,” in
The New Historicism
,edited by H. Aram Veeser,
49
-76 (New York:Routledge).
Fluck, Winfried
2000
“The Search for Distance:Negation and Negativity in Wolfgang Iser's Literary Theory,”
New Literary History
31
(1):
175
-210.
Foucault, Michel
1972
The Archeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language
, translated by A. M. Sheridan Smith (New York: Pantheon).
Gallagher, Catherine
2000
“Counterhistory and the Anecdote,” in
Practicing New Historicism
,edited by Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt,
49
-74 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).
Gallagher, Catherine, and Stephen Greenblatt, eds.
2000
Practicing New Historicism
(Chicago:University of Chicago Press).
Gans, Eric
2000
“`Staging as an Anthropological Category,”'
New Literary History
31
(1):
45
-56.
Geertz, Clifford
1973
“Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture,” in
of Cultures
,
3
-30 (New York: Basic Books).
Ginzburg, Carlo
1980
The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller
, translated by John and Anne Tedeschi (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).
1989
“Clues: Roots of an Evidential Paradigm,” in
Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method
,
96
-125 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).
1991
“Checking the Evidence: The Judge and the Historian,”
Critical Inquiry
18
:
79
-92.
1993
“Microhistory: Two or Three Things That I Know about It,”
Critical Inquiry
20
:
10
-35.
Greenblatt, Stephen
1980a
“Improvisation and Power,” in
Literature and Society: Selected Papers from the English Institute 1978
, edited by Edward Said,
57
-99 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).
1980b
Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare
(Chicago: Chicago University Press).
1981
“Invisible Bullets: Renaissance Authority and Its Subversion,”
Glyph
8
:
40
-60.
1988a
Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Ener in Renaissance England
(Berkeley:University of California Press).
1988b
Representing the English Renaissance
(Berkeley: University of California Press).
1990
Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture
(New York: Routledge).
1991
Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World
(Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon).
1994
“`Intensifying the Surprise as well as the School': Stephen Greenblatt Interviewed by Noel King,”
Textual Practice
8
(1):
114
-27.
1997
“What Is the History of Literature?”
Critical Inquiry
23
:
460
-81.
2000a
“The Touch of the Real,” in
Gallagher and Greenblatt 2000
:
20
-48.
2000b
“The Wound in the Wall,” in
Gallagher and Greenblatt 2000
:
75
-109.
2000c
“The Mousetrap,” in
Gallagher and Greenblatt 2000
:
139
-62.
2001
Hamlet in Purgatory
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Hull, David
1979
“In Defense of Presentism,”
History and Theory
18
:
1
-15.
Hunt, Lynn
1991
“History as Gesture: or, The Scandal of History,” in
Consequences of Theory
,edited by Jonathan Arac and Barbara Johnson,
91
-107(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).
Iggers, Georg G.
1997
Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge
(Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press).
Iser, Wolfgang
1993
The Fictive and the Imaginary: Charting Literary Anthropology
(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).
1996
“The Play of the Text,” in
Languages of the Unsayable: The Play of Negativity in Literature and Literary Theory
, edited by Sanford Budick and Wolfgang Iser,
325
-39 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).
Jameson, Fredric
1991
Postmodernism, or,The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
(London:Verso).
Kastan, David Scott
1999
Shakespeare after Theory
(London: Routledge).
Kramer, Lloyd S.
1989
“Literature, Criticism,and Historical Imagination: The Literary Challenge of Hayden White and Dominick LaCapra,” in
The New Cultural History
,edited by Lynn Hunt,
97
-128 (Berkeley: University of California Press).
Laden, Sonja
1996
The New Historicism:Toward a `Poetics' of Literary Knowledge
.” Master's thesis, Tel Aviv University.
1999
“Greenblattian Self-Fashioning and the Construction of `Literary History,”' in
Critical Self-Fashioning: Stephen Greenblatt and the New Historicism
,edited by Jürgen Pieters,
59
-86 (Frankfurt:Peter Lang).
Laquer, Thomas W.
1989
“Bodies, Details, and the Humanitarian Narrative,” in
The New Cultural History
, edited by Lynn Hunt,
176
-204(Berkeley: University of California Press).
Levi, Giovanni
1991
“On Microhistory,” in
New Perspectives on Historical Writing
, edited by Peter Burke,
93
-113 (Cambridge: Polit).
Pieters, Jürgen
2001
Moments of Negotiation: The New Historicism of Stephen Greenblatt
(Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press).
Prendergast, Christopher
1999
“Circulating Representations: New Historicism and the Poetics of Culture.” Special issue on Literary History,
Substance
28
(1):
90
-104.
Scarry, Elaine
1987
The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World
(New York: Oxford University Press).
1994
Resisting Representation
(New York: Oxford University Press).
Shapin, Steven, and Simon Schaffer
1985
The Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Sharp, Jim
1991
“History from Below,” in
New Perspectives on Historical Writing
, edited by Peter Burke,
24
-41 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Simpson, David
1999
“Is Literary History the History of Everything? The Case for `Antiquarian' History.” Special issue on Literary History,
Substance
28
(1):
5
-16.
Smith, Barbara Herrnstein
1980
“Narrative Versions, Narrative Theories,”
Critical Inquiry
7
:
213
-36.
Stoler, Ann Laura
2002
“Colonial Archives and the Arts of Governance: On the Content in the Form,” in
Refiguring the Archive
, edited by Caroline Hamilton,Verne Harris, Jane Taylor, Michele Pickover, Graeme Reid, and Razia Saleh,
83
-100 (Cape Town: David Philip Publishers).
Thomas, Brook
1991
The New Historicism and Other Old-Fashioned Topics
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Thompson, Edward P.
1966
The Making of the English Working Class
(New York: Vintage).
Veeser, H. Aram
1994
The New Historicism Reader
(New York: Routledge).
Wayne, Don E.
1987
“Power, Politics, and the Shakespearean Text: Recent Criticism in England and the United States,”in
Shakespeare Reproduced: The Text in History and Ideology
, edited by Jean Howard and Marion O'Connor,
47
-67 (New York: Routledge).
Weimann, Robert
1988
“Shakespeare (De)Canonized:Conflicting Uses of `Authority' and `Representation,”'
New Literary History
20
(1):
65
-81.
White, Hayden
1978
The Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism
(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).
1999
Figural Realism: Studies in the Mimesis Effect
(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).
This content is made freely available by the publisher. It may not be redistributed or altered. All rights reserved.