Kastan 1999

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Kastan, David Scott. Shakespeare After Theory. Routledge, 1999.

“Too read Shakespeare historically would be to read the plays with a robust sense of their particularity and contingency — that is, to read them as Shakespeare’s plays, even if that means that they cannot be his alone.”

New Historicism, Cultural Materialism, “have been regularly charged with exactly the narcissism that history should counter. Their historical readings seem to some too overtly self-interested to be compelling as historical accounts, significant more as records of our present needs and anxieties than as reconstructions of those of Shakespeare’s time.”

Paradox emerges “from their theoretical sophistication, which forces them to acknowledgee the situatedness of the critic as it determines the questions that are asked of the past. Thus, their ‘presentist’ commitments are not only visible from the first but also part of their very understanding of how the past is logically conceivable.”

“I have always understood my work as involved in a somewhat different, though clearly related, project (something that Peter Stallybrass and I, usually gleefully, have come to think of as ‘The New Boredom’).”

Adorno describing Benjamin as “the wide-eyed presentation of mere facts” — on the side of Benjamin

“In its often dazzling demonstrations of the circulation of discourses through culture, New Historicism has rarely paid much attention to the specific material and institutional conditions of the discursive exchanges it has explored.”