Shakespearean Performance through a Trans Lens


  • Alexa Alice Joubin George Washington University



Gender is a set of interpersonal relationships and social practices that evolve in the presence of other people and over time. My theory of trans lens corrects the institutionalized cis-sexism that assumes the cis status of even those characters with ambiguous identities. It does so by questioning the purported neutrality of cisgender subject positions. Tracing the development of trans presence in Shakespearean and global performances, this article uses Richard Eyre’s film Stage Beauty as a case study to demonstrate trans lens at work, to delineate the relationships between transgender, adaptation, queer, and performance studies, and to reveal the caveats of those fields.

Author Biography

Alexa Alice Joubin, George Washington University

Alexa Alice Joubin (, she/her/hers) is the inaugural recipient of the bell hooks Legacy Award (Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association) and recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award. She writes about race, gender, cultural globalization, Shakespeare, and film and theatre. She is Professor of English; Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Theatre; International Affairs; and East Asian Languages and Literatures at George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she cofounded and codirects the Digital Humanities Institute. Her recent books include Shakespeare and East Asia (Oxford University Press, 2021), Race (with Martin Orkin, Routledge, 2018), Onscreen Allusions to Shakespeare: International Films, Television, and Theatre (coedited, 2022), Sinophone Adaptations of Shakespeare: An Anthology, 1987–2007 (edited, 2022), Local and Global Myths in Shakespearean Performance (coedited, 2018), and Shakespeare and the Ethics of Appropriation (coedited, 2014). She is editor-in-chief of The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Global Shakespeare and, starting 2023, the general editor of The Shakespearean International Yearbook.