Abstract

ABSTRACTS:

Using the example of Macbeth, this article explores the relationship between Shakespearean tragedy and modern criminology in an effort to bridge the different methods of theorizing about crime in the humanities and the social sciences. A historicist account of the appropriation of Shakespeare in criminology morphs into the active appropriation of Shakespeare for criminology and criminology for Shakespeare studies. Thus, the article ranges from reading the theme of ambition in Shakespeare’s Scottish play through the lens of criminologist Robert Merton’s critique of the American Dream; to unpacking misogynistic footnotes in nineteenth-century Italian works of criminology by the likes of Caesar Lombroso; to analyzing recent productions of Macbeth influenced by the invention of psychology (Alan Cummings’s 2013 one-man show on Broadway in which “it’s all in his head,” and Justin Kurzel’s 2015 film in which the hero returns from war with posttraumatic stress disorder). As these examples illustrate, Macbeth not only poses the central question of criminology—Who is to blame, the individual or the society?—but also, like modern criminology, considers the causes of crime and tragedy in the context of contributing factors such as gender, class, and mental illness. These parallels raise the possibility that tragedy was criminology for pre-modern cultures.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 453-485
Launched on MUSE
2019-05-15
Open Access
No
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