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GENDER:


I Ching variants     Ovid, The Changes     Shakespeare: 7 Transgender Plays     Shakespeare reading copies     Sappho    

Two issues of gender have emerged in the past 40 years: one of which still plagues the academic community: how to avoid the embarrassment of the male pronoun "he, his, him" to refer to an unknown or hypothetical person. English is not the only language with this problem, but in its linguistic development, English left behind the Germanic and Romance language practice of insisting on masculine, feminine, and sometimes neuter for every noun and adjective— with one exception, the unspecified single person.


I Ching

In the case of the Chinese classic I Ching, Chinese at that time did not have a gender marker for a person of unspecified gender, consequently, most English translations using the old model are misleading. Since the issue is as yet unresolved, Bandanna Books in the Mudborn Press series offers eight versions of the I Ching, for he, he/she, he or she, s/he, she, one, they, and hu (hu, hus, hum, spelled differently but pronounced the same as the gender-neutral set who, whose, whom). Pick the one you're most comfortable with. The Oxford dictionaries appear to accept "they" as the preferred pronoun; you are free to disagree.

                                                     



Ovid, The Changes    

The more recent gender issue has been the emergence of transgender persons among celebrities, such as Caitlyn Jenner, and in the general population. Since this publisher is one of those transgenders, a M2F, this newer issue also deserves to have a history, even a pre-history we believe. In The Changes, Ovid records stories of many transformations, a few of which were from human male to female or female to male, such as Tiresias.





Shakespeare anthology    

450 years ago, Shakespeare wrote seven plays that included a cross-dressing character— and in the Elizabethan era, every role on stage was played by a man or boy, so the cross-gender phenomenon was well-known even to the illiterate populace of the time. Only one of these was a comic role, that of Falstaff escaping an irate husband.

These seven plays are here collected into an anthology, plus Hamlet, included on the basis of two dozen actresses playing the role of Hamlet onstage, including Sara Siddons and Sarah Bernhardt.

The same plays are also available individually as reading copies (see below. The most famous transgender roles are starred*): As You Like It,* Cymbeline, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice,* The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Twelfth Night.*

    


Shakespeare reading copies

                                       



Sappho

As a separate but related issue, the question has been raised as to whether or not Sappho was a lesbian, besides residing on the island of Lesbos. She reportedly ran a school for girls, composing the lyrics (of which we have a few, in Sappho: The Poems) and the music (which is lost entirely). She is credited with the invention of the plectrum for the lyre (for which "lyric" poetry is named), and we know it today as the guitar pick.
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Women Authors       Shakespeare

Young Life       Shakespeare

Walt Whitman       The Beechers

Early AmLit       BritLit



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