Terence Hawkes and Presentism

in Critical Survey
Author: Hugh Grady1
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Terence Hawkes was an eminent Shakespearean and critical theorist whose career had many facets. He was also a friend and mentor to me, a man who throughout his career countered the class privilege and arbitrary power he had experienced himself at the beginning of his career and which he fought when he saw it at work against others. While his critical work developed over the years in different stages – from humanism to structuralism to poststructuralism to presentism – there were certain constants in all of them: an awareness of language as such, of the power of the critic's present in all readings of works of the past, and of the political and social dimensions of literature and literary criticism. The two of us collaborated in the promulgation of the idea of critical presentism in our 2007 anthology Presentist Shakespeares, but Terence Hawkes' presentist practice can be traced back into some of his earlier works composed well before the term was coined. His 1986 That Shakespeherian Rag can be seen as the beginning of both his pioneering work in deconstructive criticism and in ideas and practices that marked the presentism of his last several books and articles.


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