May 26, 2024

Foss Presents Paper at Gothic Conference

Professor of English Chris Foss recently presented a paper at the “Hideous Progeny”: The Gothic in the Nineteenth Century conference hosted by the Loyola University-Chicago Victorian Society on October 27, 2018.  The talk, entitled “Gothic Mutations of Pity in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Star-Child,’” aimed at a critical reconsideration of pity through a reading of Wilde’s fairy tale, explores the ways it replicates stereotypically pejorative assumptions about disability but also contains empowering possibilities as well.  Through the gothic mutation of its disability-aligned titular protagonist (initially the embodiment of physical perfection, but eventually transformed into a scaly toadfaced freak), this text requires one to grapple with the extent to which its employment of pity reinforces a hierarchical division between the fortunate and the unfortunate and/or encourages a more progressive conception founded upon love, reciprocity, and action.  The paper is part of the larger book manuscript project (The Importance of Being Different: Intersectional Disability and Emotional Response in Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales) that is the focus of Foss’s 2018-20 Waple Professorship award.