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Aug 18, 2021

In today's episode, we explore Shakespeare's Twelfth Night through the lens of Gender and Queer Theory. We take a look at how Early Modern concepts of gender and queerness may have influenced the writing of Twelfth Night and how modern productions use the play to explore themes related to gender and queer identity. 

In the second half of the episode, we are joined by our first ever guest of the pod, Dr. Sawyer Kemp to continue our discussion on Gender and Queer Theory. 

Dr. Sawyer Kemp (they/them) is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Transgender Studies with the Gender & Women’s Studies department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Sawyer’s current book project investigates the rhetoric and industry of “accessibility” in contemporary Shakespeare performance. Exploring access as a tool for feminist and queer critique, this project analyzes theatres’ impact on and outreach to communities of trans and gender non-conforming people, sexual assault survivors, and people with disabilities.

Sawyer’s work has appeared in Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare StudiesThe Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and the edited collection Teaching Social Justice Through Shakespeare. Their most recent article, “Two Othellos: Transitioning Anti-Blackness” is forthcoming in Shakespeare Bulletin.

Shakespeare Anyone? is created and produced by Kourtney Smith and Elyse Sharp.

When this episode was recorded, Kourtney Smith was "Korey Leigh Smith".

Music is "Neverending Minute" by Sounds Like Sander.

Follow us on Instagram at @shakespeareanyonepod for updates or visit our website at

Works referenced:

Ake, Jami. “Glimpsing a ‘Lesbian’ Poetics in ‘Twelfth Night.’” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 43, no. 2, 2003, pp. 375–394. JSTOR, Accessed 20 June 2021.

Aughterson, Kate, and Ailsa Grant Ferguson. "Chapter 4: Cross-dressing and Gender Transgression(s)". Shakespeare and Gender: Sex and Sexuality in Shakespeare's Drama. The Arden Shakespeare, 2020, pp. 97-121. Accessed 19 June 2021.

Barker, Roberta. “The ‘Play-Boy,’ the Female Performer, and the Art of Portraying a Lady.” Shakespeare Bulletin, vol. 33, no. 1, 2015, pp. 83–97. JSTOR, Accessed 19 June 2021.

Charles, Casey. “Gender Trouble in ‘Twelfth Night.’” Theatre Journal, vol. 49, no. 2, 1997, pp. 121–141. JSTOR, Accessed 19 June 2021.

Coontz, Stephanie, et al. “Marriage vs Friendship.” Call Your Girlfriend, 2 Aug. 2009, 

Dekkar, Thomas, and Thomas Middleton. “The Roaring Girl. OR Moll Cutpurse.” Folger Shakespeare Library, 21 July 2017.

“Introduction.” Twelfth Night, edited by Keir Elam, The Arden Shakespeare, 2008, pp. 57-68, 111-119. Third.

McManus, Clare. “When Is a Woman Not a Woman? Or, Jacobean Fantasies of Female Performance (1606–1611).” Modern Philology, vol. 105, no. 3, 2008, pp. 437–474. JSTOR, Accessed 18 June 2021.

“Volume 19, Number 4, Fall 2019 Special Issue: Early Modern Trans Studies Guest Editors: Simone Chess, Colby Gordon, and Will Fisher.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Project MUSE, 24 Sept. 2020,