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01Binary and Beyond 1/220180624

Might explorations of gender in great art of the past help illuminate today's issues?

Exploring music, history, science, philosophy, film, visual arts and literature.

Emma Smith investigates how depictions of gender in great art of the past might help illuminate today's issues.

1. From Athena on the Parthenon Marbles to contemporary Drag Kings, Emma Smith explores the long history of cross-dressing in the arts - both male-to-female and female-to-male - asking if it might help us understand some of today's issues surrounding gender.

As Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Oxford, Emma Smith has long been fascinated by the original productions of Twelfth Night and As You Like It - dramas in which young male actors played young female characters who dressed and passed as young men.

Now she takes this interest further in a programme that considers the social and erotic impact of cross-dressers from Achilles and Hercules to Enid Blyton's George, Vesta Tilley, Katherine Hepburn, Octavian, Claude Cahun and many more.....

Emma learns how highly "performed" gender is, even in vastly differing societies, but how the arts grant power to audiences to transcend these norms and go "Beyond Binary", whether in the imagination or in real life.

Featuring interviews with mezzo-soprano, Dame Sarah Connolly; award-winning author of "Delusions of Gender" and "Testosterone Rex", Cordelia Fine; Drag Kings,"Pecs"; Trans activist and musician C.N Lester; and scholars Sandra Hebron, David Clark, Alastair Blanshard and Matt Cook, "Binary and Beyond" offers historical and cultural insights into a peculiarly contemporary issue - how casual assumptions about gender colour the lives of girls and boys, women and men, and all those between, in life today.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.