Chapter

Wilde's Transgressive Aesthetic and Contemporary Cultural Politics

Jonathan Dollimore

in Sexual Dissidence

Published in print August 1991 | ISBN: 9780198112259
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112259.003.0004
Wilde's Transgressive Aesthetic and Contemporary Cultural Politics

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Oscar Wilde's transgressive aesthetic relates to contemporary theoretical debates in at least three respects: first, the dispute about whether the inversion of binary opposites subverts, or, on the contrary, reinforces the order which those binaries uphold; second, the political importance — or irrelevance — of decentring the subject; third, post-modernism and one of its more controversial features: the so-called disappearance of the depth model, especially the model of a deep human subjectivity, and the cultural and political ramifications of this. It is said that Wildean inversion disturbs nothing; by merely reversing the terms of the binary, inversion remains within its limiting framework: an inverted world can only be righted, not changed. There are two responses to this, one theoretical, the other historical. This chapter takes the theoretical first, since it is necessarily both a general question about deconstruction, and a specific question about the binary and its inversion.

Keywords: Oscar Wilde; transgressive aesthetic; inversion; binary; post-modernism; depth model; deconstruction; subjectivity

Chapter.  4180 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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