Monthly Archives: August 2012

Introduction: Who and What We Are

We’d like to take a minute to briefly introduce ourselves!

For any visitors to this blog:  Please note that you may use the “Comments” section below to make your own introductions, if you like.  We’d love to see who you are and what brings you to “Oscar Wilde and the French Decadents.”

The course:

This course is an experiment in opening up a typical comparative literature seminar (Oscar Wilde and the French Decadents), taught at Stanford University in the Fall of 2012,  for a dialogue with the larger public.  Anyone who is interested in our topic, the materials we’ll be developing throughout the course, the close reading and writing exercises, or the discussions we will engage in, is welcome to join us, regardless of background or expertise.

The class website:

Even though this class has some MOOC-like features, it is not a MOOC per se.  The public can comment, ask questions, and post approved course-related contents (moderated by the instructor),  and see all writing and close reading assignments the Stanford-enrolled students will tackle.  Twice during the course, there will be a live office hour with the instructor (exact dates and hashtag to be announced soon), and we may experiment with Google hangouts, all announced on this blog (check the category Announcements).  There will be no graded quizzes, online essay submissions, or live video chats in this course, however.  We do not have any extra technical support (other than the occasional help of colleagues and friends) or capacities for grading non-enrolled students at present.  We warmly welcome and solicit the public’s participation and engagement in all the ways that are possible on this simple blog platform, however.  Please comment, ask, and post away!

The instructor:

Hello, everyone.  I’m a Lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature at Stanford University, and I’ve been teaching fin-de-siecle and modernist literature and cultural studies for many years.  I’ve also written a book on Oscar Wilde (Salome’s Modernity: Oscar Wilde and the Aesthetics of Transgression) and most recently spent my summer in the archives at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library in Los Angeles, where I handled and studied some of Wilde’s most precious manuscripts and letters.  Talk about touching history!  Needless to say, I’m passionate about the work of Oscar Wilde, and I wanted to focus a whole course on his literary, artistic, and personal connections to the French (and French-speaking) Decadents in Paris in the 1880s and 1890s.  These connections are crucial to understanding Wilde’s work of this period, which coincides with the peak of his career in the early 1890s (works such as Salome and The Picture of Dorian Gray, for example).  Of all the French texts in the course, I probably most look forward to discussing Rachilde’s Monsieur Venus, which is absolutely, shockingly decadent in terms of gender, sexuality, and morality.  Can’t wait!  I’m @petradt on Twitter, if you’d like to follow me.

The students:  

(For legal reasons, the enrolled students in this course have chosen screen names or initials rather than publishing under their full names. Thank you for your understanding.)

Hi! I am a Sophomore at Stanford University and I am planning on majoring in Drama with a possible minor in Creative Writing.  I love reading anything about theatre and literature, and am currently learning both French and Russian.-J.S.W.

Hi, readers. I’m a freshperson at Stanford University planning, tentatively, to major in Linguistics with a minor in French. French literature, especially poetry, is one of my big interests. –M.P.

I am beginning my 3rd year as a graduate student in the French & Italian department, pursuing a dual PhD. I focus on late 19th- and early 20th- century philosophy and literature and am especially interested in decadence and aestheticism. Before coming to Stanford, I studied at the University of Chicago. DJM

Voland came to Stanford to research degenerate characters, living-dead creatures, specters and wandering Jews. He is in his second year of a Comparative Literature Ph.D.

I am a senior in History, pursuing an interdisciplinary concentration in History, Literature, and the Arts focused specifically in Europe. I most deal with the 18th century, but I’ve always loved Oscar Wilde, so I’m excited to experience something a little different. LN

Hello! I am a junior majoring in English with a concentration in philosophy.  I love anything related to Romanticism or aestheticism, and I really look forward to taking a break from my usual British lit reading list and listening to what the French have to say. -AA

Hello, I am a sophomore majoring in Earth Systems with a minor in Education.  I’ve always loved delving into literary details and comparisons, and I’m eager to explore French literature for the first time. -YG

Hi! I am a first year graduate student in the Master of Liberal Arts program here at Stanford University. I will be writing my Master’s Thesis with a focus in Queer studies.  I have always been drawn to the persona of O.Wilde and I am excited to be here to learn the details of his work.  WildeFranc

I am a Philosophy & Literature major and a French minor, which pretty much maps onto the content of the course with perfect serendipity. In any case, in the last year of my undergraduate career at Stanford, it’s really wonderful to be able to take a course that involves Wilde and the French Decadents, two things I’ve always loved. I kind of want to go to every class session in a velvet smoking-jacket. -LH

Hi, I am a freshman at Stanford University. I will most likely be majoring in Psychology with an added concentration or minor in creative writing. I love Oscar Wilde and French society, so the opportunity to take this class is one which is very exciting to me, and I am hoping to learn a lot while expanding my intellectual horizons. -MG

Hi ! I am a Junior at Stanford University, majoring in Computer Science. I grew up and lived all my life in Paris until Stanford, and was therefore very excited when I learned about this course, given my love for both French Literature and Oscar Wilde’s unequaled wit.  – CAN

Hello! I’m a first year graduate student in French literature at Stanford University. I originally come from Belgium, where I studied Philosophy at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). I also did a master degree in French literature at Miami University, Ohio. Although I don’t know much about Oscar Wilde (I was rather interested in the “French Decadents” part of the title), I’m very excited about learning more about him. -R.C.

Hi, everybody! I’m currently a freshman at Stanford, with absolutely no idea about what I want to study, but there is a 20% certainty that it will be English. I’ve always loved Oscar Wilde’s work and so I was really intrigued by a course that encompassed foreign literature, Wilde’s brilliance and the social and moral issues of the time.- D.F

Hello everyone, I am a freshman at Stanford university. I am currently thinking about double majoring in economics and English with a focus on creative writing. I have very little previous knowledge about Oscar Wilde but  am now very excited to learn more about him.  HJ

Hi, I too am a first year graduate student in the French and Italian department. In my undergraduate years at the University of Chicago I mostly focused on Molière, 17th century France, and the Italian theater style–Commedia dell’arte.  The 19th century is not one that I know well, and although the “Decadents” are enticing, I am also looking forward to learning more about Oscar Wilde. MCR

Hello all, I am a junior majoring in Archaeology and Philosophy. I love all things ancient and archaic, from skeletons to Socrates. I am fascinated by Oscar Wilde’s  aesthetics, opulence, and sense of macabre, and I look forward to dedicating this quarter to his works. Alicibiades.

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