Stephen Jay Greenblatt (born November 7, 1943)
is an American literary critic, theorist, scholar, and Pulitzer Prize winning author.
Greenblatt is regarded by many as one of the founders of New Historicism, a set of critical practices that he often refers to as "cultural poetics"; his works have been influential since the early 1980s when he introduced the term. Greenblatt has written and edited numerous books and articles relevant to new historicism, the study of culture, Renaissance studies and Shakespeare studies and is considered to be an expert in these fields. He is also co-founder of the literary-cultural journal Representations, which often publishes articles by new historicists. His most popular work is Will in the World, a biography of Shakespeare that was on the New York TimesBest Seller List for nine weeks. He won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 2012 and the National Book Award for Nonfictionin 2011 for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.
Greenblatt was born in Boston and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After graduating from Newton North High School, he was educated at Yale University (B.A. 1964, M.Phil 1968, Ph.D. 1969) and Pembroke College, Cambridge (B.A. 1966, with the standard promotion to M.A. in 1968). Greenblatt has since taught at University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University. He was Class of 1932 Professor at Berkeley (he became a full professor in 1980) and taught there for 28 years before taking a position at Harvard University, where in 1997 Greenblatt became the Harry Levin Professor of Literature. He was named John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities in 2000. Greenblatt is considered "a key figure in the shift from literary to cultural poetics and from textual to contextual interpretation in U.S. English departments in the 1980s and 1990s."
Greenblatt is a permanent fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. As a visiting professor and lecturer, Greenblatt has taught at such institutions as the École des Hautes Études, the University of Florence, Kyoto University, the University of Oxford and Peking University. He was a resident fellow at the American Academy of Rome, and is a fellow of theAmerican Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has been president of the Modern Language Association.