Literature in the dock: The trials of Oscar Wilde

This essay uses the recently published expanded record of the Queensberry libel trial to revisit the relationship between the 'literary' and 'sexual' dimensions of the Wilde scandal. The defence was guided by an integrated conception of the links between the two that shaped both the public responses and the legal proceedings, including the criminal prosecution. The conflict between moral literalism and aesthetic indeterminacy not only informed the legal determination of sexual guilt but also was inflected by social class in ways that contributed to the construction of male homosexuality and of the 'literary'.
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