New Historicist want to understand the complex set of connections through intersect a text at the of its production. New Historicists reject the idea that there is a single, monolithic ideology, attitude, set of beliefs. Instead, they want to examine and understand the relationship among political, economic, social and aesthetic concerns which constantly overlap each other. We could say that they want to describe the way a specific form of power Works within a specific historical moment. After reading a New Historicist essay, readers will know as much about the conditions and relationships of a specific context as they will about a specific literary text. In many ways New Historicists are sophisticated Marxists in that New Historicists as lot of the same question about power, ideologies, and institutions, but they are keenly aware that they are not revealing the past as it really was, Greenblatt notes that “the new historicism erodes the firm ground of both criticism and literature. It tends to ask questions about its own methodological assumptions and those of others.
New Historicists read literary texts (but there is no reason that they couldn’t read a shopping mall or an advertisement), but they read them along side historical “texts” (documents,events,actions, etc). The literary text does not explain the historical context, and the historical text does not explain the literary text: they are intertwined, like two Sides of a sheet of paper. Greenblatt and his buddies are Renaissance scholars, so there is a great deal of New Historicists who focus on Shakespeare, etc. but New Historicism knows no disciplinary bounds.
Michael Ryan summarizes the task of New Historicism by saying, “there is no single historical discourse of a period; instead, the critic must trace out multiple and complexly interconnected histories that make up an age. “Other words, keep in mind that there are multiple “discourses” operating at the same time. For example, one could argue that there are such things as “legal discourse”, military discourse”, “patriarchal discourse”, “religious discourse”, “sports discourse”, “academic discourse”, “patriotic discourse”, “Marx discourse”, “medical discourse” and so on, for one could argue that there is a discourse that belongs to any identifiable group of people. By “discourse” we mean not only the way use language, but also the assumptions, attitudes, values, beliefs, and hierarchies that are attached to way language is used.
A “Marxist reader” shares many of the same assumptions and questions that all “ideological readers” ask except that a Marxist is keenly interested in the role of economic systems and their role in legitimizing specific kind’s social hierarchies. A Marxist wants to simultaneously critique representations complicit with oppressive economic systems and needs of disenfranchised groups, especially the “working class”. Michael Ryan points out “literature is in the first instance social relations, the economic forms, and the political realities of the time in which it was written”.
Like other ideological readers, Marxists focus on representations of all kinds. Every text (from poems, novels, and plays to photographs, public space fashion, systems, and institutions) reveals something about economic forces and social hierarchies, about individual struggles and larger class interests.
A reader interested in race and ethnicity shares many of the same assumptions and questions that all “ideological readers” ask except that this kind of reader is keenly interested in how ethnic and racial groups are imagined, constructed, identified, and represented. We could add that this kind of reader wants simultaneously critique representations complicit with racism while recovering, rereading, and celebrating texts that address the interests and needs of people of “minority” races and ethnicities, For example, Gates wants to “draw upon and diverge from mainstream traditions and to delve into and derive principles and practices from marginal traditions.” In other words, the task is to see how texts are marked by colonization & resistance, for every text is a hybrid of some kind. We could sum up the aims and task