chapter  3
On the need for a differentiated theory of (early) modern subjects
ByHugh Grady
Pages 18

In what follows I focus on the topic of subjectivity as it was conceptualized in Shakespeare studies in the 1980s under the influence of the theories of Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser. I believe these theories have led to impasses in our notions of early modern subjectivity.1 I have discussed these weaknesses in general terms in earlier works, under a number of different headings (Grady 1991:14-20, 225-45 and Grady 1996:8-20, 213-19). In this context, however, I want to summarize and build on these earlier writings to define what I think has become something of a consensus, at least among a segment of critics, on the weaknesses of the approaches to subjectivity within those parts of feminism, new historicism and cultural materialism most influenced by French post-structuralist views on the subject. In the process, I will make the case for a different set of theoretical notions to help us ‘think’ subjectivity in terms that are open to its critical and creative potentialities as well as to its construction within a realm of ideology and power. For these purposes, I believe, writings of the Frankfurt School deserve more attention than they have hitherto enjoyed.2