Salon Series: Oscar Wilde's Italian Dream with Author Renato Miracco
February 4, 2021
In Oscar Wilde’s Italian Dream 1875–1900 (published by Damiani), leading Wilde scholar Renato Miracco combines written research with previously unseen visual material ranging from Wilde’s earliest heady trips to Italy as an Oxford student to recently released court documents from his trial and his final days in France and Italy in 1900, after his incarceration in Reading Gaol, and his voluntary exile from Britain. Italy, and the larger world beyond London, was essential to the sensitivity and awareness of Wilde’s identity, his contributions to prison reform and his challenges to social norms and sexual stereotypes in his last years. It also offered a great deal of sexual liberty compared to the oppressive moral atmosphere of England at that time.
The previously unseen images Miracco has incorporated in this volume (including photos that Wilde received from the gay German photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden) are mainly from private collections, and together with letters, reminiscences and magazine and newspaper articles (along with derogatory articles about Wilde from the Italian press) they play a key role in placing Wilde’s character, and an entire generation, in a complex context. Oscar Wilde’s Italian Dream 1875–1900 is a major addition to the canon of one of the world’s greatest literary figures.
This discussion with literary and Oscar Wilde scholars was presented by NYU Washington, DC Dialogues and NYU Florence in partnership with NYU College of Arts and Sciences' Remarque Institute and Center for European and Mediterranean Studies.
Renato Miracco, Author, Art Critic and Curator
Renato Miracco (born 1953) is an Italian art critic and curator. He was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic for Cultural Achievements in 2018. He served as Cultural Attaché for the Italian Embassy in Washington from 2010 to 2018 and as advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy. Miracco has curated major exhibitions for Tate Modern in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and London’s Estorick Collection. His passion for Wilde dates from the early 1980s when he wrote his first essay on Wilde’s time in Italy. This new book on Wilde is based on new materials that Miracco has found over the last few years.
Ulrich Baer, Professor of German and Comparative Literature
Ulrich Baer is Professor of German and Comparative Literature in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He received his BA from Harvard University and his PhD from Yale University before joining the faculty of NYU in 1995. He is a widely published author, editor, and translator, and an expert on modern poetry, contemporary photography, literary theory, and philosophy. Among his many publications are Remnants of Song: Poetry and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan (2000); Spectral Evidence; The Photography of Trauma (2002); 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11 (2002); Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters on Life (editor and translator; 2005), The Claims of Literature: The Shoshana Felman Reader (co-editor with Emily Sun and Eyal Peretz; 2007); The Rilke Alphabet (2014), and Beggar’s Chicken: Stories from Shanghai(2013). Uli has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Getty Fellowship, an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, and twice been honored by the NYU Faculty of Arts and Science Golden Dozen teaching award. He writes regularly on photography as a critic and commentator.
He teaches regularly in the Department of Photography and Imaging at Tisch.
Stefano Evangelista, Associate Professor of English at Oxford University
Stefano Evangelista is an Associate Professor of English at Oxford University and Fellow of Trinity College. He works on nineteenth-century English and comparative literature and is especially interested in Aestheticism and Decadence, the reception of the classics, and the relationship between literary and visual cultures. He is the author of British Aestheticism and Ancient Greece: Hellenism, Reception, Gods in Exile (2009) and the editor of The Reception of Oscar Wilde in Europe (2010), as well as collections on A. C. Swinburne, Walter Pater, literature and sculpture, and Decadence and translation. For his current research on literary cosmopolitanism, he has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Association and the British Academy. His new book, Citizens of Nowhere: Literary Cosmopolitanism in the English Fin de Siècle, is due to come out in 2021 with Oxford University Press.
Lucy Riall, Professor, Department of History and Civilization at the European University Institute
Lucy Riall was Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London. She is a professor in the Department of History and Civilization at the European University Institute in Florence. Riall studied at the London School of Economics and the University of Cambridge. She was a lecturer in Modern European history at the University of Essex before moving to Birkbeck. Since 2004 she has been editor of the journal European History Quarterly.Among her many prestigious awards are a Visiting Professorship at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris and a Senior Fellowship at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Advanced Study.One of the leading experts on modern Italy, Riall has written on nineteenth-century state-formation and nationalism in Italy and Sicily. Several of her books treat the history of the Risorgimento; Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero (2007) examined the popular cult of Giuseppe Garibaldi as a global cultural phenomenon.Riall speaks fluent Italian and she appears frequently on Italian TV and radio (RAI) as well as on the BBC.
Perri Klass Co-Director, NYU Florence
Perri Klass is Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University and Co-Director of NYU Florence. She attended Harvard Medical School and completed her residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, Boston.
She writes the weekly column, “The Checkup,” for the New York Times Science Section. She has written extensively about medicine, children, literacy, and knitting. Her new book, A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future, is an account of how victories over infant and child mortality have changed the world. She began writing about medicine and about medical training when she was a medical student; her accounts were collected in her two books, A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years as a Medical Student, and Baby Doctor: A Pediatrician’s Training, which were originally published in 1987 and 1992, and were reissued as classics of the genre in updated editions in 2010. Her most recent book of medical journalism is Treatment Kind and Fair: Letters to a Young Doctor. Her medical journalism has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The New England Journal of Medicine, and Harvard Medicine. Her other nonfiction includes Every Mother is a Daughter: the Neverending Quest for Success, Inner Peace, and a Really Clean Kitchen, which she coauthored with her mother, Sheila Solomon Klass, and Quirky Kids: Understanding and Supporting Your Child With Developmental Differences, which she coauthored with Eileen Costello, M.D., and which will come out in a new edition from the American Academy of Pediatrics in early 2021.
Perri is the National Medical Director of Reach Out and Read, a national program which promotes early literacy through pediatric primary care, with guidance about reading aloud for parents and children’s books provided at routine well child visits. She ran the National Center from its inception through 2006, during which time the program grew from a single site to a national program with thousands of sites serving millions of children; the program now reaches 4.8 million children a year, 80% of whom are growing up in poverty. Through her work with Reach Out and Read, Perri has been able to integrate her commitment to the health care of young children with her love of the written word. In an essay on the program, she wrote, "When I think about children growing up in homes without books, I have the same visceral reaction as I have when I think of children in homes without milk or food or heat: It cannot be, it must not be. It stunts them and deprives them before they've had a fair chance."
She has received numerous awards for her work as a pediatrician and educator including the 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics Education Award, which recognizes her educational contributions that have had a broad and positive impact on the health and well-being of children; the 2006 Women’s National Book Association Award; and the 2011 Alvarez Award from the American Medical Writers Association. In 2016 the American Academy of Pediatrics honored her with The Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award, citing the impact that she has made through her writing, service as an educator, and leadership in promoting early literacy through Reach Out and Read.
Larry Wolff, Co-Director, NYU Florence
Professor Wolff works on the history of Eastern Europe, the Habsburg Monarchy, the Enlightenment, and on the history of childhood. He tends to work as an intellectual and cultural historian. He has been most interested in problems concerning East and West within Europe: whether concerning the Vatican and Poland, Venice and the Slavs, or Vienna and Galicia. In the book Inventing Eastern Europe (1994) he developed the argument that Eastern Europe was "invented" in the eighteenth century, by the philosophes and travelers of the Enlightenment, who attributed meaning to a supposed division of Europe into complementary regions, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. Professor Wolff has analyzed Western perspectives on Eastern Europe as a sort of "demi-Orientalism," negotiating a balance between attributed difference and acknowledged resemblance. In books about Venetian perspectives on Dalmatia (Venice and the Slavs, 2001) and Habsburg perspectives on Galicia (The Idea of Galicia, 2010), he has attempted to explore the meaning of "Eastern Europe" within imperial frameworks and the ideology of empire. His research on the history of childhood has included books on child abuse in Freud's Vienna (Postcards from the End of the World, 1988) and child abuse in Casanova's Venice (Paolina’s Innocence, 2012). His most recent book, The Singing Turk (2016), concerns Turkish subjects on the European operatic stage during the long eighteenth century, and analyzes musical and dramatic representations in the context of European-Ottoman relations. His current research concerns Woodrow Wilson and Eastern Europe. Professor Wolff also writes music and opera criticism.
Steph Scaglia, Student Dialogues Host
Steph Scaglia is a third year student at NYU Shanghai pursuing a degree in Political Science with honors and is minoring in Economics. She is currently interning with her representative, Anna Eshoo (CA-18), at the House of Representatives. In this role she works on legislative affairs and corresponds with constituents. In the past she has worked with NGOs such as 50by40, an organization whose goal is to reach a 50% reduction in production and consumption of farmed animal products by 2040. Steph’s areas of interest include international relations, identity politics, environmental policy and internet freedom.