The art of anamorphosis in new historicist criticism

Bezzola Lambert, Ladina. (2008) The art of anamorphosis in new historicist criticism. In: Mediality - intermediality. Tübingen, pp. 125-138.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5253272

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What is it about new historicist rhetoric, and particularly about the interplay of anecdotes and familiar literary texts, that – irrespective of argumentative content – is so convincing? The essay revisits this old question by focusing on the structural characteristics of the formula so successfully used by Stephen Greenblatt and his imitators. I argue that the formula owes its persuasive power to its close structural relation to Hans Holbein’s painting “The Ambassadors” with its anamorphic image of a skull. The shift in position required from the viewer of the painting to adjust the skull to a recognizable form directly corresponds to the shift in position required from the reader of a typical new historicist essay to naturalize the strange introductory anecdote in the relation to the familiar literary text, with the consequence that the connection between the two elements becomes irrevocable. The way the different elements in “The Ambassadors” relate to and condition each other thus offers an allegorical representation of a new historicist argument in its macrostructure.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > English Modern Literature (Habermann)
UniBasel Contributors:Bezzola Lambert, Ladina
Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Conference or workshop item Subtype:Conference Paper
Publisher:Gunter Narr Verlag
Series Name:Spell
Issue Number:Vol. 21
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Conference paper
Last Modified:14 Sep 2012 06:51
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:01

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