Research Focus Group Talk: Intellectual Disability, the English Law, and the Fools of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

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Alice Equestri

October 27, 2022 @ 9:30 am - 11:00 am

2510 South Hall
UC Santa Barbara

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Disability Studies RFG

This talk will examine how fools in early modern drama and literature were considered intellectually disabled, if viewed in the light of early modern criteria for intellectual disability. The English law was the discipline that most of all strove to conceptualize such a disability: calling it idiocy, it defined it as someone’s incapacity to manage property. Such thinking influenced the way literary characters were represented on the stage and page. Hence, they showcased a tendency to be interrogated, to be on the verge of bankruptcy, and to be vulnerable victims of ruthless guardians. Insights from contemporary disability studies theory will help historicize literary fools as idiots.

Dr. Alice Equestri is a Lecturer in English literature at the University of Padua as well as a Research Associate at the University of Sussex, where she held a position as Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow between 2017 and 2019. She has published two monographs: Literature and Intellectual Disability in Early Modern England: Folly, Law, and Medicine 1500-1640 (Routledge, 2021) and The Fools of Shakespeare’s Romances (Carocci, 2016), which was awarded the AIA PhD Dissertation Prize 2015. Her essays have appeared or are due to appear in venues including the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, Renaissance Studies, Notes and Queries, and Disability Studies Quarterly.

The event will also be available via Zoom here.

Sponsored by the IHC’s Disability Studies Initiative Research Focus Group, the Early Modern Center of the English Department, the Comparative Literature Program, and the Graduate Center for Literary Research


October 27, 2022
9:30 am - 11:00 am
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2510 South Hall
UC Santa Barbara + Google Map

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