Diffraction Patterns of Homoeroticism and Mimesis between Twelfth Night and She's the Man


  • Xavia Publius University of Alberta




homoeroticism, mimesis, Twelfth Night, She's the Man, queerbaiting


Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (1602) is well-known for its homoeroticism, whereas the critical consensus concerning She’s the Man (dir. Andy Fickman), a 2006 film based on Twelfth Night, seems to be that it dampens the play’s homoerotic strategies and meanings in the translation to film. This paper argues that while specific elements are indeed dampened, homoeroticism is still firmly present in the movie, and the perceived curtailing of much of the play’s subversive energy does not explain the film’s queer legacy. Because of the different codes surrounding homoeroticism for Elizabethan drama and Hollywood cinema, the different contours of homosocial space within the two societies, and the Western invention of the homosexual as a distinct category in the time between the two eras, the queer potential of She’s the Man resides in different moments of the story, and is filtered through capitalist strategies of queerbaiting. Therefore, I aim to show the diffraction patterns of queer and trans desire between the two works. Specifically, the different approaches to mimesis shape this intra-action, including the place of women in mimetics; the specters of realism and psychoanalysis; shifting notions of gender and sexuality; and changes in audience tastes regarding bodily spectacle in cross-dressing stories.