Stephen Greenblatt: Author & Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University

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Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of twelve books, including The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (winner of the 2011 National Book Award and the 2012 Pulitzer Prize) and Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. He is General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and of The Norton Shakespeare, has edited seven collections of criticism, and is a founding coeditor of the journal Representations. He was named the 2016 Holberg Prize Laureate. His honors include the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize, the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Distinguished Humanist Award from the Mellon Foundation. He was president of the Modern Language Association of America and is a permanent fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. He has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Letters, and the American Philosophical Society.

What do you do best?

I tell stories about the relationship between art and life.

What makes you the best?

I have a good instinct for channeling the ghosts from the past that continue to haunt us.

What are your aspirations?

To understand finally how Shakespeare managed to do it.

Biggest Success?

Finding a way to reach a large public with a story about an obscure papal bureaucrat who found the manuscript of an ancient Latin poem.

Most Challenging Moment?

Breaking out of the shackles of “pure” academic writing.

Favorite Motto?

“Curiouser and curiouser"

Favorite People?

Among the living: my beloved wife Ramie, my three wonderful sons, and my adorable granddaughters.

Among the dead, I loved Michel de Certeau and Bernard Williams, two great philosophers.  

Favorite Products?

Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Favorite Places?

Monteverdi Vecchio in Rome; the Scottish Highlands; Bali.

Current Passions?

The story of Adam and Eve, about which I’m writing a book.