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JD-PhD Student Sarah Fishel Publishes Essay on Anticipated Early Death in “Hamilton & the Law”

Sarah Fishel

December 04, 2020

When Sarah Fishel, a student in Drexel University’s JD-PhD in Clinical Psychology program, met with her Legal Methods professor, Lisa A. Tucker, to discuss a draft of a legal brief, she didn’t know that the meeting would lead to her writing an essay for an anthology The Washington Post recently praised as “lucid, captivating cultural commentary.”

Tucker and Fishel’s discussion turned from class to the master’s thesis Fishel was finalizing, and on to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit Broadway show, Hamilton: An American Musical. When Tucker asked if Fishel saw any connections between Hamilton and her clinical psychology research, Fishel immediately thought of a line that became foundational to her essay: “I never thought I’d live past twenty,” which the Hamilton character sings in “My Shot” during the first act of the musical.

Tucker told Fishel about her latest book project, “Hamilton and the Law: Reading Today’s Most Contentious Legal Issues Through the Hit Musical,” which she was compiling at the time, and invited Fishel to submit a proposal for an essay.

Fishel’s proposal was accepted. Her essay, “‘I Never Thought I’d Live Past Twenty’: Hamilton Through the Lens of Anticipated Early Death,” was published alongside others written by experts in their fields, including several law professors, three of whom are faculty members at Kline Law; a former solicitor general of the United States; and the current president of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

Fishel’s piece focuses on Hamilton and anticipated early death, a term used to describe a mindset common among certain youth populations and is associated with an increased likelihood to participate in risky, sometimes illegal, behavior. She also uses the framework of anticipated early death and Hamilton to analyze the juvenile justice system in the United States.

Fishel recently spoke about what Alexander Hamilton’s life might have been like had he lived today, how her doctoral research intersects with her study of law and how the juvenile justice system can be reformed.

“Hamilton and the Law: Reading Today’s Most Contentious Legal Issues Through the Hit Musical” was published by Cornell Press University on October 15.