In a lively, collaborative seminar, we will read and discuss Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and follow it with James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Both novels tell the story of a young man’s painful development and the influences that aid or thwart him; and both works fit intriguingly but uncomfortably within the tradition of the Bildungsroman (the novel of growth). These authors were rebellious Irishmen who wanted to break from literary, social, and sexual conventions, and their novels were accused of indecency and irreverence. Joyce knew Wilde’s writings well, and was deeply affected by his life, career, and final tragedy.
Required Reading: any complete edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray (Dover Thrift Edition, ISBN-13:978-0486278070); A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Dover Thrift Edition, ISBN-13:978-0486280509)
Robert Spoo ’79 holds an endowed chair in law at the University of Tulsa and is a former English professor and editor of the James Joyce Quarterly. He earned his Ph.D. in English at Princeton University, and his J.D. at Yale Law School. He has published numerous books and articles on Joyce and other modern authors, including James Joyce and the Language of History: Dedalus’s Nightmare and Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain, both with Oxford University Press. He has lectured throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, and serves as General Counsel for the International James Joyce Foundation. He was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship to complete his latest book, Modernism and the Law, which contains a chapter on Oscar Wilde and his writings.