Gross Indecency: Sexual Phobia and the Trials of Oscar Wilde
JUN 09, 2014 | 5:30 PM TO 7:30 PM
The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
June 09, 2014: 5:30 PM-7:30 PM
Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research
A seminar with Richard A. Kaye, Associate Professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY and James Melo, ERC’s musicologist and Senior Editor at RILM.
Oscar Wilde’s multifaceted personality, his biting wit, and the brilliance of his artistic genius added sparkle and glamour to late Victorian society, making him the darling of England’s salons and artistic circles. But even his position as the most popular and admired playwright in the world could not save him from the wrath of society, as he stood accused of gross indecency under England’s law that criminalized homosexual behavior. Wilde's personal life was brought into the glare of public scrutiny during his trials, when he was humiliated, degraded, exiled from society, and sentenced to two years of forced labor. The seminar will discuss Wilde's artistic persona within the context of Victorian sexuality and the sexual phobias of the time, the rise of aestheticism in music and the arts, and the cultural underpinnings that made Wilde's trials such a scandalous event worldwide.