"The Law Shall Touch You": Psychological Profiling, Race, and Marlowe's The Jew of Malta  

March 12, 2021 at 12:45 PM

Lisa Barksdale-Shaw, JD, PhD is a former Erikson Scholar at the Austen Riggs Center. Virtual  Grand Rounds  with  Lisa Barksdale-Shaw, JD, PhD    

NOTE: This is s a VIRTUAL event and  requires advance registration.   

Grand Rounds are designed for mental health professionals, offered free of charge, and provide 1.0 continuing education credit (see details below).      

Register now for an Austen Riggs event.

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.   

Lisa M. Barksdale-Shaw, JD, PhD, is a visiting assistant professor in James Madison College’s Humanities, Culture, and Writing. She 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. Professor Barksdale-Shaw is a past recipient of several fellowships and grants, where as a graduate student, she was awarded the King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship and as a post-doctoral fellow, the Erikson Scholar at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA. She has published in Routledge’s “Material Readings in Early Modern Culture” series (2018) and The Renaissance Quarterly (2019). Most recently, she also published an article on the South African land reform, entitled “Did not great Julius bleed for justice’ sake?”: Examining a Theory of Social Justice Through Will-Making in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar," in a special issue for the journal, Shakespeare in Southern Africa. Professor Barksdale-Shaw is working on several research projects, specifically on written evidence, conspiracy and racial trauma. Using Critical Race Theory, Professor Barksdale-Shaw teaches her students how to read law, literature, culture, and race as they critique narratives of justice domestically and globally. 

For questions or additional information, please contact Erikson Institute Education Coordinator and Events Assistant, Kathleen Young at: kathleen.young@austenriggs.net / 413.931.5230.    

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  • Evaluate legal and psychological profiles for the presented case study 
  • Compare an alternative profile with the case study. 
  • Identify methods to connect historical case study with contemporary models. 


Approved for: Physicians, Psychologists, Social Work

Pending for: LMHC

The Austen Riggs Center designates this live interactive webinar for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category1 Credit(s) ™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.     

The Austen Riggs Center is accredited by the Massachusetts Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians.    

The Austen Riggs Center also designates this live interactive webinar for 1.0 continuing education credit(s) (CE) for psychology.    

The Austen Riggs Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Austen Riggs Center maintains responsibility for the program and its content. For additional information about this program, please call the Erikson Institute Education Coordinator, at 413.931.5230.    

The Austen Riggs Center, #1344, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. Austen Riggs Center maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider Approval Period: 02/02/2020-2/2/2023. Social workers completing this live interactive webinar will receive 1.0 continuing education credit(s).     

For a listing of jurisdictions that accept ACE, please visit www.aswb.org/ace/ace-jurisdiction-map/.    

This live interactive webinar meets the requirements of the MaMHCA, authorization # TBD for 1.0 category 1 continuing education credit(s).    

The Austen Riggs Center follows all state and federal laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). In accordance with the ADA, the Austen Riggs Center is committed to accessibility. If you need accommodations for your course, please contact info@austenriggs.net.   

For information about our accreditation, please visit: www.austenriggs.org/accreditation-educational-activities.   

Attendees who wish to receive CE credit should note:      

After the conclusion of the event, you will receive an email with a link to complete the evaluation and claim your credits.   



1 hour