Conference: Legacy of Oscar Wilde

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Review of the conference: Who Owns The Legacy of Oscar Wilde?

Wilde Conference at Drew University, June 1-2, 2012
A REVIEW
by John Cooper 

So it was to Drew University (Madison, NJ) hopeful of enlightenment as to the nominal question posed by the conference.

To the question of who owns the legacy of an author in the public domain the answer is usually nobody. However, this conference was a reminder, should it be needed, that in the sphere of Wilde studies nobody often translates into anybody willing to marry the subject, for better or worse, to their own vision of Wilde. This is not surprising given Wilde’s dualities of nationality, gender and style, and over the years writers have enjoyed an open season and taken careful aim at their subject, giving us some quite specific visions of Oscar.

At least in a forum such as the subject becomes a moving target. So we had varied questions, not only of the Irish Wilde and the gay Wilde, as might be expected, but also an array of topics ranging from thesis to the practical; subjects from Wilde’s reputation as a classicist to the ownership of his work and imagery.

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