Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0798.  Monday, 10 October 1994.
From:           Douglas M. Lanier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 7 Oct 1994 10:18:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Drama and Historicism
Dear SHAKSPERians,
Next semester I will be teaching a graduate course in non-Shakespearean English
Renaissance drama, a follow-up for a course in Shakespeare in our graduate
program.  I've devised a special hook for this course:  a continuing discussion
of the problem of historical contextualization for literary works of the
period.  I've already rounded up the usual suspects--Marx, Taine, Burkhardt,
Tillyard, Dollimore, Greenblatt, Montrose--as well as some major critiques of
recent trends in historicist literary criticism.  Even so, for the sake of
completeness, I'd like to include a few extra articles or books on the
bibliography that give unusual, evocative, or provocative perspectives on this
question;  I'd also like to include a few short theoretical discussions by
historians (rather than literary specialists) on conceptions of historical
context. (And no doubt there's a usual suspect or two I've neglected.)
If you have any suggestions for such a bibliography, would you send them to me
personally (rather than to the whole list)?  I'll compile the suggestions and
post the bibliography to the list in a couple of weeks.
A couple of caveats:  this bibliography will be addressed to graduate students
who have little experience with Renaissance literature or culture.  The point
of the class is to give non-Renaissance specialists (the vast majority of our
graduate student population) some questions to ponder as they approach their
own specialities.  So I'd prefer works pitched more generally to those with
very specific foci.  (Since the class will be asked to do historical criticism
as part of our daily classwork, the challenges of historicism will be before
them at all times;  I want to encourage some reflection on those problems.)
And, of course, we'll be discussing the very terms of the enterprise:  the
division between "historical" and "literary" (is there one?  how should we
understand this "division"?), the premises packed into notions like
"background" or "context."   In fact, works addressed to those kinds of
questions are especially welcome.  I want to be able to offer my students works
a bit off my beaten track.  And since these questions so often spark the
conversations on SHAKSPER, I thought this is a good place to ask.
Many thanks!
Douglas Lanier
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