The Pictures of Dorian Gray
Last Offered n/a

This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

“If only it were the picture that grew old and I were to stay young forever.” While the eponymous hero of Wilde’s novel is granted his wish only until the book’s final page, The Picture of Dorian Gray seems to have enjoyed the kind of run-forever young, relevant, alluring to both popular culture and scholarly interest-that Dorian Gray would (and did) kill for. This course will read Wilde’s notorious 1890 novel and then trace out its cultural afterlife in the 20th and 21st centuries, thinking in particular about how this book and its avatars engage with the relations among art, technology, economics, and violence over the past 200 years. Texts we’ll spend time with include a 1945 film adaptation of Wilde’s novel, for which Angel Lansbury (!) was nominated for an Academy Award, a 2002 novel by Will Self called Dorian, an Imitation and, if we can get hold of it, a new film adaptation starring Colin Firth due in 2009. We’ll also read what I take to be a kind of adaptation by the left hand of Wilde’s book, Bret Easton Ellis’s novel of 1980s finance capital and serial killing, American Psycho-a book that some have found hard to put down, but is even more difficult to pick up. We’ll also watch Mary Harron’s 2000 film version of American Psycho, which has had its own surprising force and staying power. For all of The Picture of Dorian Gray’s vibrant afterlife, we may be surprised to see how much the radicalism of Wilde’s book-its style, its limning of male desire, its alliance of middle-brow Victorian gothic with satire and cultural critique-still feels radical, at times too radical even for the adaptations of our supposedly more politically and socially freewheeling (at least than the Victorians) modern era.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 0
Requirements/Evaluation: Attendance of all class meetings andreading or viewing all assigned texts. Lively, thoughtful contributions to in-class discussion is a must. There will be frequent short writing assignments and a final paper, around 10 pages of writing in all.
Extra Info: meeting time mornings
Extra Info 2: You should be committed to reading and engaging seriously with a set of works that might seem by turns sleight, fraudulent, or offensive
Prerequisites: no prerequisites; no prior experience with George Eliot necessary
Enrollment Preferences: preference given to English majors
Materials/Lab Fee: cost to student about $20 for the book and copy costs.

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