Literary Approach - New Historicism

The Norton Introduction to Poetry
Editor: J. Paul Hunter, University of Chicago
(Norton & Company, 1999)

The Norton Introduction to Poetry: New Historicism

University of Chicago professor emeritus J. Paul Hunter defines critical approaches to evaluating poetry and prose in this excellent text published by Norton & Company. The book is now in its ninth edition with contributing editors Alison Booth, University of Virginia, and Kelly J. Mays, University of Nevada.

“New historicism has less obvious ideological commitments than Marxism or feminism, but it shares their interest in the investigation of how power is distributed and used in different cultures. New historicism wishes to isolate the fundamental values in texts and cultures, and it regards texts both as evidence of basic cultural patterns and as forces in cultural and social change. 'Popular literature' often gets major attention.”

Analysis of mass-market fiction and poetry may evaluate cultural progress. Thought-provoking, yet dubious, this method of criticism casts a spotlight on injustice by examining an author's words. A creative endeavor reveals more than underlying class warfare. New historicism reduces a literary work to a social barometer.