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Title: Overview

Michael Foucault Oscar Wilde The sexual, the
loved and the repressed
  • Foucault History of sexuality
  • Repressive hypothesis
  • Perverse Implantation
  • Perspectives on sexuality before and after
  • 19th C.
  • Homosexuality/ Love marriage

  • Oscar Wilde
  • Life and trials of Oscar Wilde
  • Wilde after the trial
  • De Profundis Ballad of Reading Gaol

Michael Foucault History of Sexuality
  • queer theory

Michael Focaults History of Sexuality (Vol I)
  • Historical analysis of sexuality
  • Development of idea of Homo vs Hetero sexuality
  • Marriage and love
  • Main argument
  • Points of argument

History of Sexuality
  • Argument against common thesis that sexuality
    always has been repressed in Western society
  • on the contrary
  • Since 17th C.
  • Fixation with sexuality
  • discourse around it
  • sexual minorities

Historical Analysis of Sexuality
  • Historically
  • sex in China, Japan, India and the Roman Empire-
    ars erotica-erotic art
  • not seen as dirty or shameful
  • something to be kept secret-only because to speak
    of it would lose its power and pleasure

Development of Homo vs Hetero sexuality (18th C)
  • No such thing as homosexuals originally
  • only the act
  • extreme form of act against law
  • hermaphrodites - criminals or crimes offspring

Development of Homo vs Hetero sexuality (18th C)
  • Sexual practices governed by - customary
    regularities, Canonical law, Christian Pastoral,
    Civil law
  • determined licit and illicit matrimonial
  • Sodomy, rape, adultery - violations of rules of
    marriage - equal measures of condemnation
  • intense focus on constraint of marriage
  • sex of husband and wife beset by rules and
  • marriage - under constant surveillance

Development of Homo vs Hetero sexuality (19th,
20th C)
  • Homosexuality became a species
  • The homosexual of the 19th Century became a
    person a past, a history and an adolescence, a
    personality, a lifestyle also a morphology, with
    an indiscreet anatomy and a possible mystical
    physiology. Nothing of his full personality
    escapes his sexuality. (p.43)
  • condemned but listened to
  • age of multiplication
  • dispersion of sexuality

Development of Homo vs Hetero sexuality (19th,
20th C)
  • Strengthening of their forms
  • multiple implantation of perversions
  • severity of law to sexual offences - diminished
  • Law to Medicine
  • Medicine - provided teaching and therapeutics

Development of Homo vs Hetero sexuality (19th,
20th C)
  • Violation of marriage - 2 kinds
  • 1. Against regularity of natural function e.g.
  • 2. Against morality e.g. rape, adultery
  • marriage seen by West as a way to govern sex
  • legitimate couple - more discretion, stricter but

Link to marriage and Love
  • New concepts of what a marriage would constitute
  • new legal forms to accommodate homosexuals
  • no longer for procreation
  • more liberal

  • Despite constraints of Victorian period
  • men freer in their attitudes and behaviour to one
  • Example…

… Oscar Wilde
  • Friends did not believe he was homosexual
  • Notion of the gay man before Wilde scandal?
  • same sex relationships thought of with more
  • love was liberalized

Main Argument
  • Hypothesis Modern society is an age of increased
    sexual repression
  • Conclusion Modern society - even if it creates
    power dependent on procedure of prohibition -
    causes proliferation of specific pleasure and
    multiplication of disparate sexualities

  • Never have there existed more centers of power
    never more attention manifested and verbalized
    never more circular contacts and linkages never
    more sites where the intensity of pleasures and
    the persistency of power catch hold, only to
    spread elsewhere.

Main Argument
  • Repressive hypothesis - It is the view that truth
    is repressed by a powerful force and that we can
    liberate ourselves by getting down to the truth.
  • Perverse Implantation - It is the advancing and
    multiplying of a power specifically created to
    suppress the very vice that is its main support
    and reason for existence.

Points of Argument
  • Form of power employed - repression of
    sexualities - did the opposite
  • Function of powers - broken down to 4 points

Points of Argument
  • 1. Educators and Doctors
  • parents and teachers alerted
  • devices of surveillance
  • inexhaustible and corrective discourses
  • eliminate the vice - but did the opposite
  • In appearance, we are dealing with a barrier
    system but in fact, all around the child,
    indefinite lines of penetration were disposed

Points of Argument
  • 2. Medicine
  • new specification of individuals
  • psychological, psychiatric, medical category of
    homosexuals - Natural order of disorder
  • gave analytical, visible and permanent reality to
  • The strategy behind this dissemination was to
    strew reality with them and incorporate them into
    individuals (p.44)

Points of Argument
  • 3. Power and Pleasure
  • power demanded - constant, attentive and curious
    presence for its exercise
  • medicalization of sexuality led to - physical
    proximity and intense sensation
  • dramatized troubled moments, intensifying areas,
  • sensualization of power and gain of pleasure

Points of Argument
  • 3. Power and Pleasure
  • homosexuals - fixed by a gaze, isolated and
    animated by the attention
  • These attractions…traced around bodies and
    sexes, not boundaries not to be crossed, but
    perpetual spirals of power and pleasure. (p.45)

Points of Argument
  • 4. Devices of sexual saturation
  • reduce sexuality to the couple
  • forbidden desire
  • Educational or psychiatric institutions and
    family - distributed interplay of power and
  • less a principle of inhibition than an inciting
    and multiplying mechanism

Points of Argument
  • Modern society as being in actual fact
    perverse (p.47)
  • the type of power employed to bear on the body
    and on sex
  • encouraged multiplication of singular sexualities
    - and not repress them
  • Hypocrisy

Points of Argument
  • It did not set boundaries for sexuality it
    extended the various forms of sexuality..it did
    not exclude sexuality, but included it in the
    body as a mode of specification of individuals.
    It did not seek to avoid it it attracted its
    varieties by means of…pleasure and power. It did
    not set up a barrier it provided places of
    maximum saturation... (p.47)

The Life and Trials of Oscar Wilde
A Wilde Life
A Wilde Life
  • Born 1854 to well-known surgeon father, writer
  • Studied at Trinity College, Dublin
  • Oxford
  • 1883-84 Engaged and married
  • Constance Lloyd
  • 1885-86 Sons Cyril and Vyvyan born

Dear and Beloved, Here am I, and you at the
Antipodes. O… our souls are one. What can I tell
you by letter? … indeed your bodily presence here
would not make you more real for I feel your
fingers in my hair, and your cheek brushing mine.
The air is full of the music of your voice my
soul and body seem no longer mine, but mingled in
some strange exquisite ecstacy with yours. I feel
incomplete without you. Ever and ever
yours, OSCAR.
Tuesday, 3 March 1891 Hotel de l'Athenee, Paris
My dearest Cyril, I send you a letter to tell
you that I am much better. I go every day and
drive in a beautiful forest called the Bois de
Boulogne, and in the evening I dine with my
friend… Tonight I go to visit a great poet, who
has given me a wonderful book about a Raven. I
will bring you and Vyvyan back some chocolates
when I return. I hope you are taking great care
of dear Mamma. Give her my love and kisses, and
also love and kisses to Vyvyan and
yourself. Your loving Papa, Oscar Wilde
A Wilde Life
  • First play, 1892 Lady Windermeres Fan
  • 1892 Salome banned by Lord Chamberlain
  • 1895 Masterpiece The Importance of
  • Being Earnest

A Wilde Life
  • 1892 1st night of Lady Windermere's Fan Wilde
    introduced to
  • Lord Alfred Douglas
  • nicknamed "Bosie
  • (video)

  • Bobby, Bosie has insisted on dropping here for
    sandwiches. He is quite like a narcissus -- so
    white and gold. I will either come Wednesday or
    Thursday night to your rooms. Send me a line.
    Bosie is so tired he lies like a hyacinth on the
    sofa, and I worship him.
  • Yours, OSCAR.

Letter to Robert Ross, May 1892
A Wilde Life
  • Relationship infuriated Marquess of Queesnbury,
    Douglas father

Letter from the Marquess of Queensberry to Lord
Alfred Douglas, 1 April 1894 (video)
Lord Alfred Douglas to the Marquess of
Queensberry, 2 April 1894
The downfall…
For Oscar Wilde, posing as a somdomite
  • This card was left by Queensberry at Wilde's club
    in Feb, 1895.
  • Wilde decided to sue Queensberry for libel

The libel trial
  • Defense
  • 10 names of boys Wilde solicited
  • Letters to Bosie
  • Wilde
  • You sting me and insult me and try to unnerve me
    and at times one says things flippantly when one
    ought to speak more seriously. I admit it…
  • Wilde lost and arrested

Wilde on Trial
  • 2 trials
  • 1st trial hung jury
  • 2nd trial guilty
  • "People who can do these things must be dead to
    all sense of shame... It is the worst case I have
    ever tried.... I shall, under such circumstances,
    be expected to pass the severest sentence that
    the law allows. In my judgement it is totally
    inadequate for such a case as this. The sentence
    of the Court is that... you be imprisoned and
    kept to hard labour for two years."

(No Transcript)
Wilde in Prison
  • Pentoville ? Wandsworth
  • Reading Gaol
  • De Profundis

Life after Reading
  • 1897 released, bankrupt
  • Went immediately to France
  • Constance already left country with children,
    changing family name
  • Hope Wilde would give up Bosie
  • Sent De Profundis to Bosie
  • But reunited

  • "I feel that my only hope of again doing
    beautiful work in art is being with you. Everyone
    is furious with me for going back to you, but
    they don't understand us. I feel that it is only
    with you that I can do anything at all. Do remake
    my ruined life for me, and then our friendship
    and love will have a different meaning to the
    world." - Oscar Wilde (following his release
    from prison)

Life after Reading
  • Adopted name Sebastian Melmoth
  • Wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol 1898
  • Died 30th Nov 1900, Paris
  • Somehow I dont think that I shall live to see
    the new century. If another century begin and I
    was still alive, it would really be more than the
    English could stand.

And alien tears will fill for him Pitys long
broken urn For his mourners will be outcast
men And outcasts always mourn
The Dead Poet
  • I dreamed of him last night, I saw his face All
    radiant and unshadowed of distress, And as of
    old, in music measureless, I heard his golden
    voice and marked him trace Under the common thing
    the hidden grace, And conjure wonder out of
    emptiness Till mean things put on beauty like a
    dress And all the world was an enchanted
    place. And then methought outside a fast locked
    gate I mourned the loss of unrecorded
    words, Forgotten tales and mysteries half
    said, Wonders that might have been
    articulate, And voiceless thoughts like murdered
    singing birds. And so I woke and knew he was
    dead. -Lord Alfred Douglas (written about Oscar
    Wilde the year after his death)

Wilde and Family
  • Devoted to wife and children
  • Constance sympathetic
  • Wilde did not abandon family
  • Imprisoned
  • Separation from children was a major blow
  • video

Wilde and his Sexuality
  • Not a professional homosexual
  • Men could be much more affectionate without
    causing suspicion
  • many of Wildes friends did not believe that he
    was homosexual until he actually told them that
    he was

Wilde and his Sexuality
  • Foucault stereotyping of sexuality began in 19th
  • Wilde scandal illustrated the stereotype for
    Victorian society
  • Everything about Wilde could now play as evidence
    of his so-called vice
  • Sexuality Wildes entire identity
  • Not just his identity as somdomite

Wilde and his Sexuality
  • Acceptance into the catholic church before death
  • Acceptance of society of Wilde after his death,
  • his monument.
  • Foucault the sodomite had been a temporary
    aberration the homosexual was now a species
  • Continual love for Bosie vs Foucault
  • a kind of interior androgyny, a hermophrodism of
    the soul
  • less a type of sexual relations than by a
    certain quality of sexual sensibility, a certain
    way of inverting the masculine and feminine in

De Profundis
  • Letters written to Bosie while in prison
  • Published in 1905
  • Filled with recriminations against the younger
  • de profundis latin phrase taken from the Holy

De Profundis
  • The Holy Bible, Psalm 130
  • De profundis clamavi ad te,
  • Domine Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
  • Fiant aures tuae intendentes
  • In vocem deprecationis meae.
  • Si iniquites observaveris,
  • Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit?
  • Quia apud te propitiatio est
  • et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.

De Profundis
  • Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord
  • Lord, hear my voice.
  • Let your ears be attentive
  • to the voice of my supplication.
  • If you should remember sins, O Lord
  • Lord, who could bear it?
  • But with you is forgiveness,
  • that you may be served with reverence.
  • I hope in the Lord.

De Profundis
  • Personal reflections of a homosexual relationship
    made public
  • Proof to the Victorian public tt homosexuality is
    not just an act of sodomy
  • involves day to day interactions and activities
  • involves the commitment of the mind and soul
  • homosexual is now a species (Foucault)

De Profundis
  • Pg 152
  • Peversity became to me in the sphere of passion
  • Desire, at the end, was a malady, or madness, or
  • Wilde admitting that his sexuality is perverse?
  • Perversity ? Passion ? Malady/Madness?
  • Foucault
  • 19th C. homosexual… a morphology… anatomy and
    mysterious physiology

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  • Classification of the 19th century British
  • Murder in ballad and homosexuality in Wildes
  • selective punishment in the 19th century for
    selective crimes of the same breed

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  • Law and Order
  • ordained by men and not other superior authority
    like God.
  • classified largely in the lines of Medicine and
    Science as that is the wave that seized the 19th
    century British society.
  • based on productivity thus promoting a sexuality
    that is economically useful and politically

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  • The man had killed the thing he loved,
  • And so he had to die
  • vs
  • For each man kills the thing he loves,
  • Yet each man does not die
  • societal criminals vs non-social criminals

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  • For Oak and elm have pleasant leaves
  • That in the spring-time shoot
  • But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
  • With its adder-bitten root,
  • And, green or dry, a man must die
  •  Before it bears its fruit!
  • Adheres a strong commitment to God.
  • Believes that just punishment not meted out on
    earth will be meted out in heaven.
  • Nature and Society

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  • Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
  • We had crossed each others way
  • But we made no sign, we said no word,
  • We had no word to say
  • For we did not meet in the holy night,
  • But in the shameful day
  • Relationship as decreed in the 19th century
    British society
  • How they could have worked around society

  • There is no chapel on the day
  • On which they hang a man
  • The Chaplains heart is far too sick,
  • Or his face fat too wan,
  • Or there is that written in his eyes
  • Which none should look upon.
  • They think a murderers heart would taint
  • Each simple seed they sow
  • It is not true! Gods kindly earth
  • Is kindlier than men know,
  • And the red rose would but glow more red,
  • The white rose whiter blow.
  • But Gods eternal Laws are kind
  • And break the heart of stone
  • fighting against individual attitude.
  • Societal condemnation of a person
  • the incapability of a single man to judge another
    as every one makes mistakes
  • Holy Bible whoever did not sin may cast the
    first stone.
  • big accusation to mens jurisdicial system.
  • Opposite to all rules of religion.

The New Remorse Oscar Wilde, 1891 (written for
Lord Alfred Douglas) The Sin was mine I did not
understand. So now is music prisoned in her
cave, Save where some ebbing desultory wave Frets
with its restless whirls this meagre strand. And
in the withered hollow of this land Hath Summer
dug herself so deep a grave, That hardley can the
leaden willow crave One silver blossom from keen
Winter's hand. But who is this who cometh by the
shore? (Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is
this Who cometh in dyed garments from the
South? It is they new-found Lord, and he shall
kiss The yet unravished roses of thy mouth, And I
shall weep and worship, as before
Banished into the Wilde
  • and I am quite conscious of the fact that when
    the end does come I shall return as an unwelcome
    visitant to a world that does not want me.
  • Acknowledgement of rejection by society

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  • For where a grave had opened wide,
  • There was no grave at all
  • Only a stretch of mud and sand
  • By the hideous prison-wall,
  • And a little heap of burning lime,
  • That the man should have his pall.
  • For he has a pall, this wretched man,
  • Such as few men can claim
  • Deep down below a prison-yard,
  • Naked, for greater shame,
  • He lies, with fetters on each foot,
  • Wrapt in a sheet of flame
  • Forgiveness of crime by society not obtained in
    death even.
  • But as in Foucault, this changes.
  • In Wildes death the views of society changed
    for his grave to be monumented.

Love that dare not speak its name
  • Sweet youth, Tell me why, sad and sighing,
    thou dost rove These pleasant realms? I pray
    thee speak me sooth What is thy name?' He said,
    'My name is Love.' Then straight the first did
    turn himself to me And cried, 'He lieth, for his
    name is Shame, But I am Love, and I was wont to
    be Alone in this fair garden, till he came
    Unasked by night I am true Love, I fill The
    hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.' Then
    sighing said the other, 'Have thy will, I am the
    Love that dare not speak its name.'
  • End of Poem Two Loves by Bosie
  • Standard reference for gay love in 20th century
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