Greenblatt, Stephen(1943– ) literary historian; born in Newton, Mass. After taking both his B.A. and Ph.D. at Yale—with two years on a Fulbright scholarship at Cambridge University, England—he joined the faculty of the University of California: Berkeley (1969). He soon emerged as the most brilliant proponent of a new school of literary historians-critics that uses an interdisciplinary approach to studying texts; this approach came to be known as the "new historicism" because of its emphasis on interpreting literary texts by placing them in often complex historical contexts; he also saw the study of texts as yielding insights into the conflicts that concern current society. Among his most highly regarded works is Shakespearean Negotiations (1988). In 1983 he was also one of the founders of Representations, a journal that advances the "new historicist" approach to cultural criticism.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.