Wilde on the Borders: Symposium, Theatre, and Art

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Artwork by Michael J. Beam, Fatal Sincerity, 2011, delicately encapsulated games of pleasure, found objects, synthetic grass material, wooden “Jumbo Slate Educational Toys” boards–Deluxe Edition–(with chalk and eraser). Collection of David Giusiana, Lewiston, NY.

On Feb. 8, 1882, after his seventh lecture in America in just over a week, Oscar Wilde traveled north from Buffalo, N.Y., crossing the border by train to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, to play the role of tourist. In typical Wilde fashion, his response to seeing the falls was paradoxical, proclaiming it “one of the earliest, if not the keenest, disappointments” of a bride’s married life, yet appreciating its aesthetic and spiritual power as “a sort of embodiment of pantheism.” Wilde’s visit to Niagara Falls is both microcosm and metaphor for all of what might be called Wilde’s ‘border crossings’ - national, classed, sexual, religious, and aesthetic.

“Wilde on the Borders,” hosted by the English department, was held \ April 2, 2016 and celebrated Wilde’s complexity through the forms he expressed: essays, theatre and art. Participants also viewed a performance of Lady Windermere’s Fan, the inaugural production by Niagara University’s acclaimed theatre department in the Leary Theatre. As well, the Castellani Art Museum (CAM) of Niagara University featured two exhibitions in association with “Wilde on the Borders.” Wilde at the Falls: Touring the Falls with Oscar Wilde paired notable quotations from Wilde with selections from CAM’s own Charles Rand Penney Historical Niagara Falls Print Collection. Also on view through May 29, 2016, will be selections from the CAM’s permanent collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century American and European landscapes. 

Symposium topics included discussions by Wilde scholars from across the country and include themes such as identity formation in a cultural context. We invite you to read the program for more about the conference topics.

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Scholars in the Castellani Art Museum at the "Wilde on the Borders" conference.

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