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LIT 58 — The Genius of Oscar Wilde

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jun 22—Jul 27
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jun 24
Unit: 1
Tuition: $360
Instructor(s): Ben Wiebracht
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jun 22—Jul 27
6 weeks
Refund Date
Jun 24
1 Unit
Ben Wiebracht
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
When Oscar Wilde arrived in New York in 1882, a customs official asked him if he had anything to declare. “Only my genius,” he replied. The public persona Wilde crafted is well captured in that riposte: the insouciance, the daring egotism, the perfectly timed wit. His ability to command a room was legendary, and his epigrams left audiences unsure whether to gasp or to laugh. In the often uptight world of late Victorian England, Wilde was flagrantly, brilliantly transgressive. But he was far more than a provocateur. As a playwright, he almost single-handedly brought the English stage, in decline since the Renaissance, back to life. As a philosopher and a critic, he argued for the importance of beauty in modern life, and as a satirist, he laid bare the hypocrisies of his day. In this course, we will explore these contributions through a selection of his most significant works: The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband, and “The Decay of Lying,” to name a few. Through lectures and discussion of these materials, students will develop a deeper appreciation of the life and work of a writer who both defied and defined the culture of his age and, at the same time, discover his continued relevance to our own.

English Instructor, Stanford Online High School

Ben Wiebracht received a PhD from Stanford and has taught at the university in a variety of capacities. In 2015, he received Stanford's Centennial Teaching Assistant Award, the university’s highest award for graduate-student teaching. His scholarship, which has appeared in numerous academic journals, focuses on Victorian literature, with an emphasis on the period’s complicated attitudes toward religious doubt.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest and Four Other Plays (ISBN 9781593080594)
(Required) Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism and Selected Critical Prose (ISBN 9780140433876)
(Required) Merlin Holland, The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde (ISBN 9780007158058)