New Historicist Criticism

Contemporary concerns

New Historicist critics explore the historical, social, political and cultural context in which texts are produced and received. Contemporary issues and anxieties, whether they are discussed in the text or not, are of particular interest for the way in which they may shape the text in production and reception. 
Reading Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew in the light of New Historicist concerns, critics have explored the understanding of marriage in sermons, homilies and works such as Juan Luis Vives’ The Office and Duty of a Husband. They have also explored the mysogynistic and violent literature which was contemporaneous with the text and which constructed the shrewish woman as one needing to be trained or tamed, an example of which is the anonymous English ballad A merry jeste of a shrewde and curst Wyfe, lapped in Morrelles Skin, for her good behauyour. Against the backdrop of such literature and historical anxieties about order within marriage and state, New Historicist readings place The Taming of the Shrew firmly in its historical, social, political and cultural context.
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