Historicizing Theory

Edited by Peter C. Herman

Subjects: Cultural Studies
Paperback : 9780791459621, 332 pages, December 2003
Hardcover : 9780791459614, 332 pages, December 2003

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Table of contents


Introduction: The Resistance to Historicizing Theory
Peter C. Herman

1. The Holocaust, French Poststructuralism, the American Literary Academy, and Jewish Identity Poetics
Evan Carton

2. Michel Foucault and the Specter of War
Karen Raber

3. Historicizing Paul de Man's Master Trope Prosopopeia: Belgium's Trauma of 1940, the Nazi Volkskörper, and Versions of the Allegorical Body Politic
James J. Paxson

4. "Nostalgeria" and "Structure, Sign, Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences"
Lee Morrissey

5. Jean Baudrillard and May '68: An Acoustic Archaeology
Andrea Loselle

6. Stephen Greenblatt's "X"-Files: The Rhetoric of Containment and Invasive Disease in "Invisible Bullets" and "The Sources of Soviet Conduct"
Jonathan Gil Harris

7. New Historicizing the New Historicism; or, Did Stephen Greenblatt Watch the Evening News in Early 1968?
Ivo Kamps

8. The End of Culture
Loren Glass

9. Literature, Incorporated: Harold Bloom, Theory, and the Canon
Marc Redfield

10. The Sixties, the New Left, and the Emergence of Cultural Studies in the United States
David R. Shumway

11. The Postcolonial Godfather
H. Aram Veeser

12. The Spectrality of the Sixties
Benjamin Bertram

13. Afterword: Historicism and Its Limits
Morris Dickstein



Examines deconstruction, New Historicism, postcolonialism, and other contemporary theoretical movements in their historical contexts.


Historicizing Theory provides the first serious examination of contemporary theory in relation to the various twentieth-century historical and political contexts out of which it emerged. Theory—a broad category that is often used to encompass theoretical approaches as varied as deconstruction, New Historicism, and postcolonialism—has often been derided as a mere "relic" of the 1960s. In order to move beyond such a simplistic assessment, the essays in this volume examine such important figures as Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Stephen Greenblatt, and Edward Said, situating their work in a variety of contexts inside and outside of the 1960s, including World War II, the Holocaust, the Algerian civil war, and the canon wars of the 1980s. In bringing us face-to-face with the history of theory, Historicizing Theory recuperates history for theory and asks us to confront some of the central issues and problems in literary studies today.

Peter C. Herman is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. He is the author and editor of many books, including Day Late, Dollar Short: The Next Generation and the New Academy, also published by SUNY Press.