CBC Podcast: Liberate Your Mind – Exploring Sex and Gender in Shakespeare  

February 20, 2024 ::: Full CBC Radio Podcast on YouTube

Excerpt: Twelfth Night

Excerpt: Taming of the Shrew

Excerpt: Troilus and Cressida

This is a CBC Radio podcast on gender roles in Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, and Taming of the Shrew, recorded live at Stratford Festival, Ontario, Canada.

     “Liberate your mind, said English professor Alexa Alice Joubin, urging us to embrace the Bard’s open-endedness to ambiguity in his plays. This episode of CBC Radio’s Ideas series was aired on February 20, 2024, and explored gender in Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, and The Taming of the Shrew.

     Take Shakespeare’s use of the double entendre in Twelfth Night — Viola in disguise as a man, and mourning her supposedly dead brother, saying “I am all the daughters of my father’s house, and all the brothers too” — a technique that scholar Alexa Alice Joubin says prompts an ambiguity that compels people to think.

     “I would say we can — and should — embrace more of that open-endedness to ambiguity rather than pinning down the surface of the text,” said Joubin. “The beauty of imaginative literature, especially Shakespeare, is a lesson in ambiguity. Unfortunately, people embrace that less and less, and I’ve often told my students that’s a huge problem, especially when you approach imaginative literature with literal mindedness — you’re not willing or able to liberate your mind.”

     From the Stratford Festival, IDEAS producer Philip Coulter moderates a discussion about the slippery process of interpreting Shakespeare.

     Panelists Jyotsna Singh, Alexa Alice Joubin and actors Maev Beaty and Graham Abbey, along with director Jonathan Goad examine the minefields of sex and gender.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Stratford Festival, Ontario, Canada.

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