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"The Law Shall Touch You": Psychological Profiling, Race, and Marlowe's The Jew of Malta with Lisa M. Barksdale-Shaw, JD, PhD
In this talk, Dr. Barksdale-Shaw confronts how the examination of early modern English renaissance characters in a sixteenth-century drama recovers, remembers, and recovers race in a way that belies the well-crafted narrative in Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta. Removing him from the margins of this tragedy, she centers Ithadore, a captured and enslaved Turk, who serves as the figure through which she studies the legal repercussions of the violence that surrounds him. As a way to read the character, Dr. Barksdale-Shaw assesses his potential sociopathy and analyzes how the narrative of the play “prosecutes” or makes judgments against the behavior of Ithadore. To determine his relationship to the world, she also considers the dynamics between trauma and the master-servant relationship exists in his role as a bondsman. Further complicating these psychological and legal assessments, Dr. Barksdale-Shaw compares the agency of Marlowe’s Ithadore and Shakespeare’s Aaron the Moor from Titus Andronicus. Overall, this case study offers a way to expand how we contemplate contemporary social relationships, racial capitalism, and labor agreements on the global stage.

Mar 12, 2021 12:50 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Lisa M. Barksdale-Shaw, JD, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor in James Madison College’s Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy major @Michigan State University
Professor Barksdale-Shaw completed her law degree at the University of Michigan Law School and her doctoral degree from Michigan State University. Professor Barksdale-Shaw’s scholarly specialization examines the narrative of justice, by combining several disciplines, including law, literature, and medicine. In her work, she foregrounds evidence and criminology, litigation practices and procedure, trial advocacy, material culture, stage properties and performance, racial trauma, ethics, state actors, and the history of law. She is a past recipient of several fellowships and grants and has published several essays and articles, most recently a piece on the political implications surrounding steganography, entitled “‘That you are both decipher'd': Revealing Espionage and Staging Written Evidence in Early Modern England," in A Material History of Medieval and Early Modern Ciphers, Material Readings in Early Modern Culture series for Routledge.