To a considerable extent, Foucault can be seen as one of the guiding spirits behind the school of criticism known as New Historicism. The leading lights of New Historicism such as Stephen Greenblatt consciously sought to challenge prevailing conceptions of textual interpretation by offering up parallel readings of texts grounded in specific socio-historical and cultural conditions.
In doing so, New Historicist critics placed texts in their wider historical contexts while also textualizing history—that is to say, showing how the writing of history involves the production of a constructed text rather than the disinterested presentation of timeless truths. In contrast to the purely text-based New Criticism, New Historicism strives to go beyond the text in giving a much broader social and political context to a specific written work.
One of Foucault's main ideas is that knowledge is always constructed in specific historical contexts. To Foucault, knowledge in any given historical epoch is...
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