Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

American studies and the new historicism

María Gema Chocano Díaz



This essay argues that one major reason American studies has proved resistant to the New Historicism is that its model of pouvoir-savoir, derived from Foucault, works more readily for cultures dominated by centralized power (e.g., Greenblatt's studies of Shakespeare and Renaissance court culture). In the United States, with a tradition of weak and decentralized state power, the relations described by Foucault are more difficult to conceptualize. The other major reason, the essay suggests, is that the "American self' model — a Hegelian notion of "collective consciousness" that dominated American studies from Perry Miller through Bercovitch's Puritans Origins of the American Self — had a certain positive ideological value within American intellectual culture. The essay treats as a representative instance the work of Myra Jehlen, whose American Incarnation was the last major achievement of the "American self approach, and who is today the leading spirit of the Rutgers "new Americanists."


Historiografía; Corrientes historiográficas; Historicismo; Estados Unidos


Copyright (c) 1997 María Gema Chocano Díaz

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