Definition of historicism in English:



mass noun
  • 1The theory that social and cultural phenomena are determined by history.

    • ‘He explains Weber's transition from historicism to a historical social science.’
    • ‘On the theoretical level, it shows the historicism of ‘culture’; the term, quite simply, means different things to different people at different times.’
    • ‘The historicism and pseudo-objectivism of this approach leaves little room for theory of any kind.’
    • ‘This is surely not quite the kind of historicism that cultural critics in general really know what to do with.’
    • ‘Implicit in Godwin's privileging of romance over history is a kind of historicism that is directly opposed to Scott's.’
    • ‘Thus the application of a concept of historicism remarkably similar to Lukács' led Teige to the absolutely opposite aesthetic conclusion.’
    • ‘This, it seems to me, is the reason why theory is capable of replacing new historicism altogether.’
    • ‘How new are cultural materialism and new historicism, for instance?’
    • ‘In his writings Karl Popper questioned the positivism and teleological historicism of the modern age.’
    • ‘Using the term historicism as a lens brings the shared cognitive assumptions that lay behind these formulations into sharper focus.’
    • ‘Thus criticism of the Historical Critical Method as historicism is incorrect, even though the method has been misused in that way.’
    • ‘In the 1920s this was the target of the idealistic historicism of Benedetto Croce.’
    • ‘This is post-metaphysical historicism, after all, and what historicists do is narrate.’
    • ‘The immediate genealogy of New Historicism was not German historicism but the Marxism of the mid-20th Century.’
    • ‘Here is a writer who seems to have subscribed quite deeply to the sort of historicism that Chakrabarty describes.’
    • ‘In most areas of social science there has been a persistent debate about the relative merits of ahistoricism and historicism.’
    • ‘To explicate this paradigm, the study, in addition to the tenets of border theory, draws on the insights of historicism and postcolonial theory.’
    • ‘This is especially true of the concepts of hegemony and historicism, on which Coxian forms of critical theory have largely focused.’
    • ‘In the dimension of time it appears as historicism, each occasion encased in its own context.’
    • ‘Thus the problem is clearly of escaping relativism and historicism without denying the historical origin of our existence and thought (Hegel).’
    1. 1.1 The belief that historical events are governed by natural laws.
      • ‘I see a Wordsworthian version of Romantic historicism as self-reflexive, operating within the competing temporalities of modernity.’
      • ‘The role of romance is to assimilate the ‘progress’ of society by naturalizing history via a certain kind of historicism.’
      • ‘In other words, the primary structures Lukacs identified when criticizing the historicism of the naturalist novel could exist in artworks that portrayed no historical content whatsoever.’
  • 2The tendency to regard historical development as the most basic aspect of human existence.

    • ‘Another dilemma for the human-rights project is the challenge of historicism and relativism.’
  • 3(in artistic and architectural contexts) excessive regard for past styles.

    • ‘Its link to Art Nouveau, with its total rejection of historicism, makes it the starting point for all studies of modernism.’
    • ‘But Panofsky does not actually spell out what Raphael did to escape the logic of historicism.’
    • ‘He argued broadly as follows: Nineteenth-Century historicism had debased the currency of traditional architectural forms.’
    • ‘The late 1970s brought a revival of historicism, often resulting in a reaction against Modern Movement design principles and technology in design.’
    • ‘Like architect Charles Moore, Smyth embraced overt historicism as a response to such a setting.’
    • ‘This was furnished with a state bed, designed by Braund, an intriguing piece of historicism.’
    • ‘Those favoured by the regime still tended towards the neo-Gothic in architecture and sculpture, and an academic historicism in painting.’
    • ‘This is historicism, and sits comfortably in the old modernist ‘hegemony’ Jencks thinks this is beyond.’


Late 19th century: from historic, translating German Historismus.