Vocabulary for Tyson ch. 9: Historical and Cultural Criticism


  1. Historian 278: what does this battle tell us of the spirit of the age?  what are the linear, causal relationships of events?  objective analysis; structuralism (looking for a central spirit of an age); progressive look at human history (we progress).
  2. New Historicism 278: what does this account of history tell us about the politics and ideologies of the time and culture that produced this account?  how has the event been interpreted?  We have no clear access to hardly any real facts of history except the most basic ones like Washington was a president; our understanding of history fits into a complex WEB of competing ideologies; history is a biased story 282; literature and history are texts (everything is text—our interpretations, literature 292)—both primary and secondary narratives can be DECONSTRUCTED 283; the history of stories cultures tell themselves about themselves 285; most of history is a matter of interpretation; reliability is difficult--
  3. Impossibility of Objective Analysis 279: everyone lives in a particular time and place—personal views, hidden ideologies, will influence interpretation; we see what/how we want to see (and we don’t see things our ideologies keep us from seeing)
  4. Complexity 280: history is a complex web, not merely linear, doesn’t have goals
  5. Causes 280: are complex, multiple, and difficult to analyze or pry apart; the cause is effected by culture and effects culture in turn
  6. Shaped by and Shape Culture 280: all events
  7. Subjectivity 280: is shaped by and shapes the culture into which we are born—we are not merely a product; determinism and free will are not opposites, they are linked, webbed; our subjectivity is a lifelong process of negotiating; subjectivity is a matter of the stories we tell ourselves and we draw material for our stories from the circulation of discourses that make our culture (287)
  8. Power 281: Michel Foucault—does not emanate only from the top; power circulates in all directions (webs of power) in a never-ending proliferation of exchange (goods, people, ideas)
  9. Discourse 281: social language created by particular cultural conditions at a particular place and time (is this new to Deconstructionism?) with a particular understanding of human experience; discourse of white supremacy; discourse of Mormonism; discourse of feminism; ei ideology; thus no discourse can by itself explain the complex cultural dynamics of social power; dynamic, unstable interplay among discourses (discourse as signifier) always overlapping, competing
  10. Monolithic 281: no single, unified, universal spirit of an age—no structural explanation
  11. Negotiating 281: overlap, competition, flux, dynamic, unstable, interplaying discourses; impermanence—discourses may wield power but they also stimulate opposition to that power; humans are never merely victims; they can find ways to oppose authority in their personal and public lives
  12. Circulation of Power 282: power is not absolute, it is maintained by/in a circulation/negotiation between numerous discourses; ruling powers use discourse to maintain or negotiate power; they socially construct anti-authority as anti-normal, insane, criminal, perverse, treasonous in order to keep it down
  13. Deconstruction 283-84: historical texts can be deconstructed to reveal the limitations of their ideologies; can deconstruct by examining historical texts from marginalized groups and even marginalized private life (285)
  14. Master Narrative 284: narrative told from a single cultural POV which claims to offer the only accurate POV (it erases POV); new historicism tries to deconstruct this by adding or focusing on the histories of marginalized peoples to add plurality or equality (?); dominant discourse
  15. Representations of History 285: this is all there is, interpretations, negotiations, exchanges, discourses and lies/stories
  16. Thick Description 285: from anthropology; close reading of a given cultural production trying to find the meanings that culture had for that people, then reveal the cultural codes that gave that production that meaning; a search for meanings within the cultural context and given that I bring a context with me too
  17. Self-positioning 286: be aware of and forthright about my psychological and ideological positions relative to the material I am thickly describing or deconstructing; my lens, my POV
  18. Subjective 286: historical analysis is grounded in ideology (rather than a free-for-all)
  19. Literature 288: Cultural Artifacts; text and context are mutually constitutive; literary texts shape and are shaped by their historical contexts; look at the circulation of discourses the authors and their texts operate (ed) in; the novel can question it’s culture’s assumptions or be conflicted about them; it can also deconstruct them; maps the discourses circulating at the time, and is a discourse itself (292)
  20. Anti-colonialism 290:
  21. Eurocentrism 290:
  22. Point Of Origin 291: the time and place in which the book was written and published
  23. Cultural Criticism 292: can apply to any analysis of any aspect of culture; it tends to be much more politically oriented than new historicism (thus it takes up feminist critiques, Marxist critiques etc. more than new hist? or with less self-reflexivity?); it more narrowly looks at how working-class culture has been misunderstood and undervalued (high vs. low art—semiotics?); all cultural artifacts/productions can be analyzed to show the cultural work they perform
  24. Cultural Work 293: the ways the productions shape our experience by transmitting or transforming ideologies, their role in the circulation of power (dominant class defines high art to maintain its own power; but subordinate/marginalized classes produce art that transforms their experience and the culture like the AIDS quilt)
  25. Culture 294: culture is a process, not a product; lived experience, not a fixed definition; it is a collection of interactive cultures (discourses?) each of which is growing ? and changing, intersected at all moments by Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Sexuality, Socioeconomic class, Occupation, Religion etc.; how does pop culture transform high art and what does it suggest about the popular imagination, and how is the media/pop interpretation viewed by the public 296—what cultural work do transformations do?
  26. Circulation of Discourse 298: is the circulation of power in all it’s forms