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"Want-Wit" Discipline


The claims that psychoanalytic criticism in Shakespeare studies is waxing or on the wane have been constant, off and on, since Freud tried his hand with Hamlet at the turn of the twentieth century. What does this indicate about the shape that the academic study of Shakespeare can and has assumed? About the discipline’s self-understanding? "'Want-wit' Discipline" takes Drew Daniel's "'Let me have judgment, and the Jew his will': Melancholy Epistemology and Masochistic Fantasy in The Merchant of Venice" as a way into describing the encrypted and defended fantasmatic identity that studies of Shakespeare have developed in the brave new globalized world of psychopharmacology, functional magnetic resonance brain imaging, a world market in bardolatrous commodities including films, and elective families. A return (again!) to Freud, and in particular to Freud's scandalous shuttling between system and revision, is perhaps the only way, Lezra argues, of coming to understand both the core fantasies of contemporary Shakespeare studies and the claims that psychoanalytic criticism no longer has much relevance to that discipline.

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