Wilde on Tour: MLA 2024
The Oscar Wilde Society invites abstracts for a special session at the 2024 MLA Convention in Philadelphia, PA, Jan. 4-7 2024.
This panel will consider Oscar Wilde’s travels abroad from his early departure from Ireland to his travels in America with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company to his final exile in Paris, and many meaningful tours and trips in between. As an Irishman living in London, Wilde’s identity was marked by outsider status even before there was controversy regarding his sexual identity. His own travel to Greece during his undergraduate career also nearly resulted in being kicked out of Oxford University. In establishing his career, he gave an American lecture tour, reportedly stating upon arrival that he had nothing to declare but his “genius.” After returning to Britain, Wilde continued traveling and writing about his experiences overseas as well as spinning stories about people—often travelers themselves—who shake convention with outsider perspectives. Wilde’s scandals were marked by forcible travel to prison and ultimately in exile to Paris, where his grave rests today.
As the first special session organized by the Oscar Wilde Society, which is based in London, the theme of tour and travel is particularly meaningful as we, like Wilde, will travel to Philadelphia to share our perspectives.
In order to align with the MLA presidential theme is Celebration: Joy and Sorrow, we are particularly interested in papers that address travel as an occasion of joy and sorrow in Wilde’s life and art, which may include such sorrows and joys as:
*Wilde’s exile from London
*Constance Wilde and the family’s move to Continental Europe
*The reception of Wilde’s work overseas
*Wilde’s forceable movement between prisons during his incarceration
*Travel as theme and metaphor in Wilde’s work
*Exoticism in “The Sphinx,” Salome, and other works
*Wilde as Irish expatriate
*Wilde’s travels to Greece
*Wilde and Sex Tourism
*Wilde’s lectures in America, particularly including Philadelphia
*Wilde’s travels with and away from his family
*The intersection of racial and LGBTQ+ identities surrounding Wilde’s travel
*Wilde as a model for LGBTQ+ travel and tourism
*Any other topic connecting Wilde, his work, his family, or his immediate circle to travel as an occasion of joy or sorrow, celebration or despair.
Please submit a 300-word abstract and a short bio by March 20th, 2023, to Sandra M. Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the MLA conference, please visit https://www.mla.org/Convention/MLA-2024/Presidential-Theme-for-the-2024-Convention