As a man whose ears have heard many tales that tell of times past and their connection with the present, I have honestly not heard a single tale that delineates between past and present like, as Carolyn Dinshaw puts it, subtler historicism does.
She says that, “it would delineate the context in which Chaucer was writing, finding the terms in which he expressed concepts of violence, say, and would delineate our contexts and concepts as well; it would then chart the differences and similarities, finding analogies between approaches to violence in Chaucer’s time and our own” (273).
Often, the tales that are spoken in my lodge consist of past events that relate to the present in a way that seems more linear.
“In this case, feminist theory – positing structures of gender – would allow us to see not only analogies between the way the Wife of Bath approaches gender and the way journalists do but continuities in gender approaches between then and now: while we would acknowledge the differences between conditions and expectations for women in Chaucer’s day and in our own, we would trace a continuity of gender structures, in this instance misogyny (273).
I do not hinder the value of the past by wondering what the conditions were in that specific time. Morals are morals, even if the intended moral was not realized by the reader, it is still a moral learned! Dinshaw quotes Jonathan Culler when he says that “meaning is context-bound… but context is boundless,” and again she quotes Strohm, “texts are vauled not only for what they were but also for what they have become; they await retrospective illumination in new contexts.” Stories, books, and texts are always being read or told in the past, our’s sun’s light is eight minutes late when it reaches us! Our present is the past! So why not reference the past to learn of our “present?”