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5 new faculty join ASU's Department of English, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

ACMRS new professors

From left: Lisa Barksdale-Shaw, Madeline Sayet, Ruben Espinosa, Brandi Adams and Mariam Galarrita.

March 09, 2021

This fall, Arizona State University’s Department of English and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies will welcome five new faculty members who will work toward the center’s mission of enabling and promoting the most expansive, creative and daring scholarship in medieval and renaissance studies. 

This hiring initiative was led by Ayanna Thompson, director of the center and a Regents Professor in the Department of English, in an effort to elevate scholars of color working on issues of race in premodern studies.

“With the five BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) scholars joining our seven other early modernists, ASU will have the strongest Shakespeare program in the country,” Thompson said.

“The university’s investment in early modern studies is groundbreaking, and it will put ASU’s Department of English and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the forefront of Shakespeare studies.

"The scholars in the cluster hire are remarkably impressive teachers, scholars and community members. The ASU community will be enriched by their inclusion.”

Meet the new faculty members of the Department of English and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies:

Brandi Adams, assistant professor

Adams' interests lie at the intersection of book history, history of reading, early modern English drama, premodern critical race studies and gender along with modern editorial practices of early English drama. She is also interested in the early history of artificial intelligence, early modern automata and how studying literature can have a significant and positive impact on computing.

In her work in early modern and Renaissance studies and literature, she presents a history of reading and books as told through early plays published in England during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Prior to coming to ASU she served as an undergraduate program manager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in several roles at the University of Maryland including as associate director of communications. Adams received a PhD in English literature from the University of Maryland. She joins ASU as an assistant professor in the Department of English.   


Lisa Barksdale-Shaw, assistant professor

Barksdale-Shaw’s work examines narratives 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, drama, material culture, stage properties and performance, racial trauma, ethics, state actors and the history of law. She is currently working on several research projects, specifically on written evidence, conspiracy and racial trauma.

Using critical race theory, Barksdale-Shaw teaches her students how to read law, literature, culture and race as they critique narratives of justice domestically and globally.

She joins ASU from the James Madison College at Michigan State University, where she was a visiting assistant professor. She received a degree in law at the University of Michigan Law School and a PhD in English language and literature from Michigan State University. She joins ASU as an assistant professor in the Department of English.

Ruben Espinosa, associate professor and associate director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Espinosa specializes in Shakespeare and early modern literature. He is currently working on two monographs, “Shakespeare on the Border: Language, Legitimacy and La Frontera” and “Shakespeare on the Shades of Racism.”

He is the author of “Masculinity and Marian Efficacy in Shakespeare’s England” and the co-editor of “Shakespeare and Immigration.”

In addition to the books he has written, he has also published numerous essays and articles, and he serves on the editorial boards of Shakespeare Quarterly, Exemplaria: Medieval Early Modern Theory and Palgrave’s Early Modern Cultural Studies series. In 2018, he was elected to the Shakespeare Association of America’s board of trustees.

Prior to ASU he was at the University of Texas at El Paso, where he was an associate professor of English. He received a PhD in English literature and Shakespeare studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He joins ASU as an associate professor in the Department of English and associate director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Mariam Galarrita, postdoctoral fellow

Mariam Galarrita

Galarrita’s research focuses on early modern English drama and travel writing, premodern critical race studies, language and science fiction. 

She is currently a graduate student at the University of California, Riverside and will defend her dissertation, “Early Modern England and Race-making,” this spring.

She is the founder and director of Race and the Premodern Period Speaker Series at UC Riverside.

This fall she will teach a class on Shakespeare alongside Jonathan Hope, director of literature and professor in the Department of English.

She joins ASU as a two-year postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English. 

Madeline Sayet, clinical assistant professor

Sayet is a member of the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut, where she was raised on a combination of traditional Mohegan stories and Shakespeare — both of which have influenced her work as a stage director of new plays, classics and opera.

For her work as a director, writer and performer she has been honored as a Forbes 30 Under 30, TED Fellow, MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow, National Directing Fellow, Native American 40 Under 40 and a recipient of The White House Champion of Change Award from President Barack Obama.

Prior to ASU she served as the executive director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program. Sayet received a bachelor’s degree in drama from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, a master’s degree in arts politics and postcolonial theory from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study and a master’s degree in Shakespeare and creativity from The Shakespeare Institute. She joins ASU as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of English.

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