The poverty of context: Historicism and nonmimetic fiction

Christopher Lane*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


When scholars heed the "historicist turn" in literary criticism, invariably they try to situate a work in its relevant context. Doing so seems to confirm the work's social significance and its relation to proximate historical events. But what happens when a work dissolves these implied connections, rendering them provisional or meaningless? Is it evading context or pointing intelligently to that phenomenon's limited powers of determinism? This essay reconsiders whether contexts help or hinder understanding of especially antirealist fiction. What escapes context, I argue, alternately transfigures and defamiliarizes experience, thereby complicating our relation to the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-469+710
Issue numberPART 3
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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