Submitted by Blake on February 12, 2019 - 8:47am
Literary scholars often hear about dangers of presentism: we are warned against looking at the past for confirmation of our own progress — the distance between us and them — and against collapsing that distance, and seeing, Narcissus-like, our own reflections in long-ago lives and letters. But of course, the present always shapes our encounters with earlier texts, whether we’re reading them, writing about them or, in the case of Shakespeare, staging them. Not only do we inevitably view the past through the lens of our present, but our present also renders the past visible — or invisible — in shifting ways. Walter Benjamin tells us that history is “filled with the presence of the now.” And, as the now changes, so does the history.
From The Very Modern Anger of Shakespeare’s Women – Electric Literature