Raymond Williams is often claimed as a major precursor of cultural materialism, but interest in institutions, discursive practices and subject positions suggests the different legacy of Althusser's attack on humanism and the influence of Foucault.New historicism, by contrast, shows scant regard for Marxism while being especially indebted to Foucault's version of Nietzsche's will to power and perspectival historicism, despite important critiques of Foucault's work. The Althusserian approach is more overtly committed to the possibility of political change but tends towards a similarly theoreticist, even formalist reduction of history.If you need high quality, fresh and competent research / writing done on the subject of Theater, use the professional writing service offered by our company.
Herein lies the need to offer estranging perspectives on Elizabethan drama and the intervening historical gulf.
One aspect of the difficulty is the continuing investment in naturalising both the language and dramaturgy of Elizabethan drama within a literary tradition dominated by Shakespeare and the Shakespeare industry.
This prevalence has long been seen as excessive, a mark of something unnatural in its historical imaginary, without being understood.
History in Elizabethan drama is, as title-pages characteristically predict, lamentable.
 There is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.
And just as such a document is not free from barbarism, barbarism also taints the process of transmission ...traces its origins to the view that vicious behavior is at once funny and terrifying as a spectacle, admirable and yet grotesque, amusing but also edifying as a perverse distortion of moral behavior.' Elizabethan drama, par-ticularly Marlowe's, dramatises the contradictions of seeing history as a record of divine providence in which the world is the theatre of divine judgment.The prologue to the first part of Tamburlaine invites audience and reader to `View but his picture in this tragicke glasse, / And then applaud his fortunes if you please.' Indeed the play seems to relish the ambivalent moral possibilities of melancholy pleasure in lamenting a world without divine providence.If we are to awake from the nightmare of history, perhaps such historicism should be left alone to dull the air with discoursive moans, as Aeneas puts it in Marlowe's Dido, Queen of Carthage.The persistent naturalisation of suffering in history should be resisted if the process of transmitting historical documents is not to further the process.On such an unnaturally cruel and violent stage dominated by seemingly arbitrary and unreliable powers, the possibility that evil might be recognisable without theology is consoling.Indeed it is the reduction of history to worldly evil which makes it possible to stage history as a state of unnatural nature that can be lamented.History is then seen as the non-identity of nature with itself, unnatural forces struggling with natural ones.Unnatural forces, however, must also be seen as emerging from nature, while the dramatisation of history in terms of human agency suggests that unnatural acts are an aspect of human nature for which no secular concept of wordly evil is adequate. Recent critical discussions of Elizabethan drama, above all of Shakespeare, have centred around `new historicism', a trend consolidated in critical anthologies. New historicism is characterised by an interest in the historicity of texts and the textuality of history, and by affinities with theoretical projects concerned with power, identity and the construction of subject positions.Despite important political differences, new historicism has been linked with what has become known as `cultural materialism'. Many of the political differences stem from the uneasy relation of new historicism, and of cultural materialism, to the Marxist conception of history or historical materialism, differences which this essay seeks to accentuate.