LITERATURE AND HISTORY – Important Questions Answer | Critical Thinking


Discuss the relationship between history and literature.

Ans: History is generally defined as a collection of facts. It is objective and therefore, it opposes literature which is subjective.  History and literature differ to a great deal in their methodologies. History is bedrock of objective facts and data which gives credence to any empirical disciplines. History can be a guidelines and reference in literature. We often take the help of history and historical facts while observing literary texts. Both history and literature have their own status. If history is context, then literature is text. History is a methodology that is easily applicable in any discipline. History can be seen as a legitimizing discipline by which other subjects or disciplines can function.

History has objective approach in other subjects. The facts and data of history must have an internal consistency and coherence which reflects external coherence. History is the collection of certain facts. Sometimes we call literature to be realistic, if has close association to historical facts. The more literature can or cannot use history and its element. Literature is subjective, often imaginative and it has no necessary relationship to the history. In history a part reflects the whole and the whole contains the parts. We have historical knowledge from political records, politics, history books, literary text, cultural facts and ancient or historical scripts.

Literature is manmade so is history. Literature is subjective but history claims to objectives because the text in history is further ordered and shaped into narrative. History is order to fit the coherent world view.  In history un necessary things are suppressed. Historical interpretation is necessarily political. Defining historical facts has become major problem. Actually, historical facts mean certain basic facts which are the same for all historians. And which forms the backbone of history. The fact which is highly believed, more reliable and agreeable by all the historians is called the historians fact.

History and literature have different methodologies. They have been governed by very different and distance procedures. Historical discourse can be seen as discourse which looks on to the world through its reference. Literature is a discourse just because of its metaphors and other dominant literary elements. From history and literature, we receive to different pictures of the same world. They are not different in their use of language. In literature someone can complain on its literariness. History is not just a narrative of events. The historian’s difficult task is to explain what happen.

How do you define literary history?

Ans: History is collection of facts. Literary history is the collection of literary facts which are put in order, sequence and systems. Literary history is mostly recorded and ordered on the basis of literary periods, genres, literary works and literary personalities. Literary history is the history if literary development, births and development of new techniques and ideas.

Mostly, we receive literary history in chronological order based on periodical divisions. Literary history is sufficient in itself. Literatures does not necessarily require other socio-cultural histories for its study. But sometimes other histories can be an essential part in literary history. Definitely the development and transformations of society and culture.

History has its own rules and laws. These rules are internal and formal. Literary laws and literary development can be explained only by reference to thinks external co-literature itself. The proper study of literary history is somehow related to other external histories.

There are different approaches and ways to record literary history. Literary history is primarily author- centered, genre-centered, period-centered and theme-centered. Literary histories perform a number of functions.

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What does literary classification mean?

Ans: Literary classification is the way to set literary history. Literature has its own history and it has different bases for its classification. All literary can be classified on the basis of period, genre, author, style and some other special criteria. The act of classification in case of literature and literary text is not so easy.  When we classify literary text, we classify them on the basis of certain standards. The process of classification is not inclusive or homogeneous at another such classification is exclusive or heterogeneous as well.

We can classify literary text either finding similarities or avoiding differences. When we place certain text and writers at certain group we must search similarities. The person who classifies the text must be conscious about both similarities and differences.  A classification is not a neutral act rather it depend on the politics of literary reception.  Classification of literary text formulates literary narration. In classification we can include the parts and we can isolate some parts as well. When we isolate one part from whole we can include it in another category. For example, the development English poetry can be classified under following titles:

  • Anglo Saxon poetry
  • War poetry
  • Middle English Poetry
  • Romantic poetry
  • Elizabethan poetry

When we classify texts we not only indicate the assumed similarities between them but also suppress any differences. Periodical classification of text expects differences in time span. Sometimes literary text can be classified on the basis genre. Even the genre   can be sub –classified.  Text is usually classified under drama, nobles, essays and poetry.  These four literary genres can be further classified into other sub genres. In this way we can say that a literary text is always free to be classified by classifier on any basis or criteria either searching similarities or indicating difference.

Discuss new historism.

Ans: New historism is a theory applied to literature that suggest literature must be studied and interpreted within the context of both the history of author and history of critic. It is a school of literary story that developed in 1980s and gained wide spread influence in 1990s. Stephen Greenblat is the man who developed new historicism. New historicism does not believe history as the coherent and cohesive order of historical fact.  For new historicism, history is full of confusion; it is unstable and gets affected by the impact of time, space and zone.

Stephen greenbelt rejected all the understanding of traditional perspective of history. For new historicism literary work is influenced by time in which it is produced. New historicism examines the social condition of the author, his theoretical background and theories imposed by him and any other factor that influence the work of art. New historicism strongly believes that criticism of any work is necessarily influenced by the critics, beliefs, social structures and so on. That’s why under new historicism analysis of text depends on the history of both author and critic. Definitely any literary text receives some Impression and influence of ongoing historical realities.

History is not reliable at all time. It is not permanent and it can never be coherent as we think. Our understanding and interpretation of history gets affected by the change of time beliefs and other socio-cultural systems. That’s why new historicism does not believe in single interpretation of any text. Some historian do have their own biasness while perceiving the history of author, history of reader, and the history of critic may not be same.

Historical representation is not unified, trustful and coherent but unstable and contingent. History and literature are no longer in binary opposition. In new historicism the margin are put in central and there is reversal of thinking. In new historicism there is total disagreement to the traditional history. When apply new historicism in literature we must be convinced that literature itself is fractured, discontinues material of history. In literature, it will be wrong to search something stable, concurrent, unified history and meaning. For new historicism, literature and its interpretation are possible only by the direct relation of the reader and his historical surrounding. History is linear and chronological but new historicists say that the old history is exclusive. It does not include everyone. It rather includes only these who are already in power. It does not talk about who are not in power.

New historicism says that truth is constructed, fabricated and created. All the truths are manmade part of culture. New historicism argues that when power changes, knowledge changes and truth also changes. So the truth is changeable. For new historicists knowledge is independent of perspective. New historicism also question materialism for them. Cultural materialism is a form of domination bur it does not use force.

How does Foucault perceive history?

Ans: For Foucault historical continuity everywhere is broken or fractured. In the place of traditional history Foucault comes up with effective history.  According to Foucault effective history is dynamic and. Its keeps unchanging history can never be singular linear reliable and permanent.  Effective history is fragmented history. With the help of knowledge effective history wants to break down the historical process. No historical process is in unifying system. If any history wants to survive longer than it must get ready to divide itself into separate parts.

No historical cause and effect is singular.  All historical events are the products of a vast network of signification and power. History is the product of knowledge. This knowledge is generative and productive force.  Knowledge is not for the continuity of the past. It does not depend on rediscovery of us. Knowledge is not made for cutting. There is existence of history in every object. Even human body is not outside influence of history. According to Foucault’s effective history our identity and self is not history”. It means our identity and self is not stable.  Human beings will not have the same definition. We can excite for a long dividing our emotion multiplying our body and going against ourselves.

Traditional history wants to preserve and conserve the historical facts. Actually history is the product of power struggles. Power is another element that divides history. When power shifts from one person to another the history gets affected. Knowledge is not knowledge of self or of historic process or of facts. It is a tool that cuts thought the unifying systems of all human behavior and central system.

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Explain historical, anthropology, and thick description.

Ans: New historicists believe in social disharmony and discontinuity. New Historicists avoid the so-called objectivity of historical and scientific discourses. For them facts are interpretive and largely textual. New historicists aim to show the society is discontinuous and arbitrary. For new historicism, history is not coherent or cohesive rather historical representation is not unified truthful and coherent.  Historical representation is always unstable contingent (dependent) and partial.

The principles of new historicism are similar to anthropological methodology of studying human culture. Culture and cultural practice are collectively sustained symbolic structures. Anthropology perceives cultural conditions as rituals as the textual facts. Clifford in his book – The interpretations of cultures (1973) discusses thick description. Thick description is a method of historical description employed by certain New Historicists where by an anecdote is against the orthodox history to reveal the codes of a given culture. In comparison to orthodox history culture is more reliable and convincing to the anthropological methodology. By studying cultural artifact history can be reinterpreted. Thick description is sorting out the structures of signification. Check description determines social ground of culture or stories with their import.

The technique of thick description has affinities with deconstructive rhetorical practice. Historical anecdotes are privileged over traditional facts and read to reveal the ideologies, motivations and behavior of a culture or a society. Traditional history which supposes it to be reliable and coherent is read against by anecdote. Culture or story is collectively sustained symbolic structure. It exists to say something of something. The anthropologists are concerned with formulating sociological principles. When we consider any culture as text then it becomes easier for us to bring out feature of it. Culture or rite use emotion for cognitive ends. Attending and participating in culture is a kind of sentimental education. Such culture and rites teach one his cultures ethos and his private sensibility. Culture arouse various emotions and sentiments in human beings. To explore our emotion and lead ourselves towards cognitive, culture help to a great extend.

The culture of a people is a collection of texts, which the anthropologist damages to read over the shoulders of those to whom they properly belong. Clifford studies cockfight of Balinese as the social phenomena or text. This culture is similar to a text because it uses emotion for cognitive ends. Both texts and culture are for cognitive ends. Reading texts and participating in culture has the similar types of impression and influence on both readers and viewers. Both provide emotion and lead to cognitive end. Both help to explore the feature of it. Reading text or participating in rite has the same process of deriving social meanings. So, thick description goes to proper story of culture and cultural conditions for exploring the reality of culture against traditional history. As an intimate observer, the anthropologist reads the society as textual reality. The significance of culture is over read.

Stephen Greenblatt discusses the role of peripheral (Unimportant) material in literary and historical studies. Literary criticism is in equal distance from a work of art and historical events. Literary criticism deals both work of art and historical events by using the same terms. Now literary criticism needs to develop some new terms to describe contemporary culture. The terms allusion, symbolization, allegorization, representation are inadequate to deal with culture of the past. All of these terms have a rich history. New historicists have broken down the barriers between literary and non-literary discourages.  They do not feel any gap between social and aesthetic discourages. Aesthetic discourages can be read against the significance of social discourse.

What are different the ideologies of text?

Ans: All Marxists literary theories assume that texts are products of a particular society and a particular context. For Marxism, literature and texts are the product of a specific class and are materially produced at points in history. For Raymond Williams, ideology is an abstract and false thought. Ideology is how a society thinks about itself. Ideologies supply all the terms and assumption and frameworks that individuals use to understand their culture, and ideologies supply all the things that people believe in. Raymond Williams argues that ideology has become common in many kinds of argument. For him ideology is mainly a term of abuse.

For Eagleton, the literary text is not the expression of ideology. Ideology too is not the expression of social class. The text is a certain product of ideology. For the production of text, the analogy of dramatic production is appropriate. A dramatic production produces the text, transforming into a unique and irreducible entity. The literary text produces ideology in the same way dramatic production is possible out of text. Dramatic production reveals text’s internal relation to its world. Literary text’s relation to ideology reveals something of its relation to history. The literary text does not reflect open ideology and betray its historical context.

For Marxist thinkers, a text does not consider history and ideology to be its backgrounds.

Ideology is a system of representation, relating to material practices. This system enables individuals to realize their place in the social network. Ideology is a system which offers the individual a framework of assumptions through which the self is realized. For Althussre, ideology is not a version of reality. Reality, truth and falsehood are not the aspects of ideology. Ideology is organization of signifying practices that make up the social subject. Ideology expresses a will hope or nostalgia, rather man describing a reality.

The writers ideology Is expressed through gaps and omissions. According to David Forgas, a text tends to present reality partially or incoherently. A text is full of gaps and omissions. Our text cannot make the right connections between what we write and what we see. A writer writes both what he sees and what he does not written text fail to be appropriate. For Goldmann, the text constitutes collective achievement.

The text is not a product of either the conscious or unconscious intention of an author. The text is always produced in relation to something other. In text, there are raw materials of literature. Structure of the text reveals not unity, homogeneity and autonomy but defect, falsity and secrecy. Pierre Macherey sees the text is a production where the materials of literature and society blend, clash and are reworked. These materials ae beyond the author’s control. Ideology itself is a full of inadequacies and contradictions.  The critic looks for what the text does not say and cannot say. Text is the product of a conscious or unconscious intention. The text exists above all by its determinate absences. It cannot control anything. Meaning of the text is not buried in its depth. Structure of the text dispossesses the work of its false interiority and secret cause. Structure reveals the basic defects of text. Text is also doubly articulated. The text has illusionary order. The literary work is not a natural empirical reality but, it intricate reality in which both writers and readers live. Such reality is their ideology. Literature itself can be seen as an ideology. Literary texts can be seen to contain ideology in the same way that all discourse does.

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