By Hugh Grady
Every epoch recreates its classical icons--and for literary culture no icon is more central or more protean than Shakespeare. Even though finding the authentic Shakespeare has been a goal of scholarship since the eighteenth century, he has always been constructed as a contemporary author. In this critical study, Grady charts the construction of Shakespeare as a twentieth-century text, redirecting "new historicist" methods to an investigation of the social roots of contemporary Shakespeare criticism. Beginning with the formation of professionalism as an ideology in the Victorian Age, this theoretically-informed study describes widespread attempts to save the values of the cultural tradition, in reformulated Modernist guise, from the threat of professionalist postivism in modern universities.