Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0710. Monday, 30 September 1996.
Date: Monday, 30 Sep 1996 16:58:53 -0600 (CST)
Subject: New Historicism at Ghent (Belgium)
C O N F E R E N C E
Facing History. Recent developments in the study of the relationships between
literature and history.
Since the beginning of the 1980s we have been witnessing the steady rise of a
number of new methods of historico-contextualist criticism. One of these is the
new historicism, which originated in the work of a number of Anglo-American
Renaissance-scholars and which since has found its way into the fields of
Medieval Literature, Romanticism, Victorian studies and the study of
In the wake of post-structuralist theories of representation, new historicists
have found it difficult to hold on to traditional conceptions of the
relationship between literature and history and have stressed the need to find
new theoretical models that would highlight the dynamic, mutual dependency of
text and context. One of these models is to be found in the work of the leading
new historicist Stephen Greenblatt. In his work on Shakespeare he suggested
that we understand the historical embeddedness of texts in terms of what he
called "the circulation of social energy." This enables us to conceive of
literary texts as both determined by and constitutive of historical reality.
It is the purpose of this conference to introduce the work of such renowned
critics as Stephen Greenblatt (University of Berkeley/California, USA) and
Catherine Belsey (University of Cardiff, Wales) - both key-note speakers at our
meeting - in the Belgian and Dutch academies. Also, the conference aims at
confronting in a critical manner the new reading-method which these critics
proposed with a number of urgent questions. Some of these will no doubt concern
what our third key-note speaker, Frank Ankersmit (University of Groningen, the
Netherlands), has termed "the chiastic relationship of literature and history."
Other speakers include cultural and literary theorists, philosophers,
Shakespeareans and historians, who will address equally important questions:
what, if any, are the advantages of 'facing history' for the literary critic?;
how should history be faced?; what, exactly, does it mean to do so?
For further information please contact: Juergen Pieters, Vakgroep Nederlandse
Literatuur en Algemene Literatuurwetenschap, Blandijnberg 2, B-9000 Gent.