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2008/09 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3355 Oscar Wilde: Playwright and Performer

20 creditsClass Size: 30


Module manager: Professor Steven Bottoms

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2008/09

This module is not approved as an Elective


On completion of this module, students should be able to:

Demonstrate a critical understanding of the themes and dramatic strategies employed by Oscar Wilde in his major plays (and selected other writings).

Demonstrate a critical understanding of the ways in which these plays reflect on, and provided a coded critique of, the social-cultural mores of the period in which they were written.

Learning outcomes
Students will have developed:
- the ability to use written and oral communication effectively;
- the capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse;
- the ability to manage quantities of complex information in a structured and systematic way;
- the capacity for independent thought and judgement;
- critical reasoning;
- research skills, including the retrieval of information, the organisation of material and the evaluation of its importance;
- IT skills;
- efficient time management and organisation skills;
- the ability to learn independently.

Skills outcomes
Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
Critical reasoning.
Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
IT skills.
Time management and organisational skills.
Independent learning.


This module will examine the work and legacy of Oscar Wilde - looking at his major plays for the theatre, and also at the significance of the ways in which Wilde presented himself as a personality and celebrity on the broader stage of late Victorian England. (Thus, though the emphasis of the course is on drama/theatre, we will also look at non-dramatic but determinedly 'performative' texts such as "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "De Profundis".) We will also consider Wilde's significance in our own time, by looking at selected productions and adaptations of his work (particularly those available on film), but also at some select examples from the wide range of modern plays and films about Wilde.

The module will address questions such as the extent to which Wilde's work can be perceived as satirically subversive of 1890s cultural mores, and the extent to which his work can be seen as coded theatricalisations of his own flamboyant identity (as aesthete, as Irishman, as dandy, as gay man). We will also consider the ways in which Wilde's trials for 'gross indecency' effected a further dramatization--performatively shaping twentieth-century public understandings of homosexual identity.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Teaching will be through weekly seminars (10 x 1 hour) plus up to 5 additional hours (content to be determined by the module tutor). The 5 additional hours may include lectures, plenary sessions, film showings, or the return of unassessed/assessed essays.

Private Study: Reading, seminar preparation and essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar contribution
1st assessed essay.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,700 words33.30
Essay2,750 words66.70
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 24/04/2008


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