The Touch of the Real in New Historicism and Psychoanalysis


Let us begin, as the New Historicist Stephen Greenblatt does in his essay “Marlowe, Marx, and Anti-Semitism,”  with a fantasy. Consider the highly unlikely scenario of a graduate student in English, well versed in the methods of psychoanalysis, Lacanian methods in particular, yet wholly unaware of the New Historicism and its occasional skirmishes with psychoanalytic reading. Then, what if this theoretical student somehow stumbled upon Greenblatt’s famous phrase and formulation for the New Historicist ideal, The Touch of The Real, which Greenblatt has used repeatedly in his writing on the New Historicism since 1997, without recognizing its context in Greenblatt and the New Historicists’ querying of historiography. Would our fantastical student first assume that Greenblatt was a Lacanian?

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