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

2510 South Hall UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

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 ...