West Virginia University’s Department of English and Eberly College of Arts and Sciences are sponsoring the next Jackson Distinguished Lecture on Friday (Dec. 3) from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in 130 Colson Hall.

William A. Cohen’s lecture is titled “Queer Universalism and the French Oscar Wilde.” Oscar Wilde can be understood not only as an Irish or an English writer but as a French one as well. Wilde often traveled to France, he composed his acclaimed play Salom� in French and he promoted French culture as an international fraternity of the arts.

In Wilde’s French writing, a paradoxical aesthetics emerges from a fantasy of nationality that negates national allegiance altogether, which is conjoined to a fantasy of perverse female sexuality that negates gender and sexual identity altogether. Wilde’s idea of French as exterior to national and sexual identities undoes the ontological bases of identity, which Alain Badiou’s notion of universalism can help to explain. Wilde exemplifies this ontological fracture through what might be termed queerness, but it is a queerness affiliated as much with nationality and gender as with sexuality.

William A. Cohen is professor of English at the University of Maryland. He is the author of “Embodied: Victorian Literature and the Senses” (University of Minnesota Press, 2008) and “Sex Scandal: The Private Parts of Victorian Fiction” (Duke University Press, 1996), and co-editor of “Filth: Dirt, Disgust, and Modern Life” (University of Minnesota Press, 2005).

For more information, contact Donald Hall, Department of English, West Virginia University, at 304-293-3100 or donald.hall@mail.wvu.edu.


CONTACT: Donald Hall, Department of English

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