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Sexual DissidenceAugustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault$
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Jonathan Dollimore

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198112259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112259.001.0001

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Wilde's Transgressive Aesthetic and Contemporary Cultural Politics

Wilde's Transgressive Aesthetic and Contemporary Cultural Politics

(p.64) 4Wilde's Transgressive Aesthetic and Contemporary Cultural Politics
Sexual Dissidence

Jonathan Dollimore

Oxford University Press

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

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