Definition of historicism in English:



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

    • ‘This, it seems to me, is the reason why theory is capable of replacing new historicism altogether.’
    • ‘He explains Weber's transition from historicism to a historical social science.’
    • ‘Thus the application of a concept of historicism remarkably similar to Lukács' led Teige to the absolutely opposite aesthetic conclusion.’
    • ‘Thus criticism of the Historical Critical Method as historicism is incorrect, even though the method has been misused in that way.’
    • ‘In his writings Karl Popper questioned the positivism and teleological historicism of the modern age.’
    • ‘This is especially true of the concepts of hegemony and historicism, on which Coxian forms of critical theory have largely focused.’
    • ‘Here is a writer who seems to have subscribed quite deeply to the sort of historicism that Chakrabarty describes.’
    • ‘In the 1920s this was the target of the idealistic historicism of Benedetto Croce.’
    • ‘Implicit in Godwin's privileging of romance over history is a kind of historicism that is directly opposed to Scott's.’
    • ‘This is post-metaphysical historicism, after all, and what historicists do is narrate.’
    • ‘To explicate this paradigm, the study, in addition to the tenets of border theory, draws on the insights of historicism and postcolonial theory.’
    • ‘On the theoretical level, it shows the historicism of ‘culture’; the term, quite simply, means different things to different people at different times.’
    • ‘Using the term historicism as a lens brings the shared cognitive assumptions that lay behind these formulations into sharper focus.’
    • ‘The immediate genealogy of New Historicism was not German historicism but the Marxism of the mid-20th Century.’
    • ‘This is surely not quite the kind of historicism that cultural critics in general really know what to do with.’
    • ‘In most areas of social science there has been a persistent debate about the relative merits of ahistoricism and historicism.’
    • ‘Thus the problem is clearly of escaping relativism and historicism without denying the historical origin of our existence and thought (Hegel).’
    • ‘How new are cultural materialism and new historicism, for instance?’
    • ‘In the dimension of time it appears as historicism, each occasion encased in its own context.’
    • ‘The historicism and pseudo-objectivism of this approach leaves little room for theory of any kind.’
    1. 1.1 The belief that historical events are governed by natural laws.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I see a Wordsworthian version of Romantic historicism as self-reflexive, operating within the competing temporalities of modernity.’
  • 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.

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


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