Philomela at the Fin de Siècle

Friday, May 21, 2021
12:00 pm PDT – 1:30 pm PDT

Presented by Tara Thomas, 2020–21 Karmiole Fellow

Tara Thomas is the recipient of the 2020–21 Kenneth Karmiole Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship. This one-month fellowship, established through the generosity of Kenneth Karmiole, is available to all graduate students for research at the Clark Library, using archival and printed book materials, on any subject.

In this talk, Dr. Thomas presents her fellowship research, which examines Oscar Wilde and Michael Field’s engagement with the Philomela myth from Greco-Roman mythology. Wilde engages with the myth in “The Burden of Itys” (1881) and his short stories, most notably The Nightingale and the Rose (1888). Michael Field (Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper) expands the myth in “Procne,” “Philomela,” and “Tereus” (1901), an unpublished dramatic trialogue that pays tribute to Wilde’s earlier adaptations. Dr. Thomas explores how both authors (and their illustrators) draw heavily from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to adapt the myth to queer ends, strengthening Ovid’s critique of heteropatriarchal violence and transforming homosocial into homoerotic bonds.

Tara Thomas recently completed her Ph.D. in Literature at UC Santa Cruz, where she teaches Victorian literature and composition. She is the media manager and education programs assistant at the Dickens Project. She has work in Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism and an article currently under review at Victorian Poetry. Her talk comes from her dissertation project, “Queer Decadent Classicism: Late-Victorian Representations of Ancient Roman Literary Culture.”