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Shakespeare criticism has long been recognised as a touchstone to shifts in our critical discourses The following paper constitutes an examination of two conflicting discourses The analysis will be confined to the views presented in Stephen Greenblatts article entitled Martial Law in the Land of Cockaigne and Ben Ross Schneider Jrs Are We Being Historical Yet Colonialist Interpretations of Shakespeares Tempest - a contest if you will between two different theoretical positions as to where the text lies In his article entitled Are We Being Historical Yet Colonialist Interpretations of Shakespeares Tempest Ben Ross Schneider Jr extends Carolyn Porters critique of new historicism to recent work on The Tempest Included in Schneiders study of eight recent analyses of The Tempest is Stephen Greenblatts article Martial Law in the Land of Cockaigne Schneider argues that by choosing colonialism as a frame and then reifying it as if it were coterminus with the limits of discourse in general the new historicists marginalize not only a large field of relevant contemporary discourse but also The Tempest itself Schneider 121 Schneider maintains that the great variety of theoretical underpinning in the set of essays fails to produce a corresponding variety of interpretation Schneider 122 He then proceeds to highlight those areas of the play which provide the common ground for new historicist interpretation It is not however the aim of this paper to analyse the five different areas mentioned by Schneider What is more important for the author is the contest that exists between the different theoretical positions as to where the text lies The new historicists will be represented by Stephen Greenblatt the opposing theoretical discourse will take the form of Ben Ross Schneider Jr Schneiders search for a timeless meaning to The Tempest a goal which is remarkably similar to that of the old autotelic historicist rests on an extensive field of early modern European discourse whose roots can be traced back to
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