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Research Colloquium: The Dandyism of Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde
Date: 1 March 2010 

Research Colloquium Spring 2010

Rebellion as Aestheticism: The Dandyism of Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde

Ms. Guan Bei Bei, Mphil. Candidate (European Studies) HKU

Date: Mar 1, 2010 (Monday)
Time: 14:00 to 16:00
Venue: KKLG 105

Dandyism is a very important and significant social phenomenon in 19th century Europe. The thesis focuses on Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde; that is, The Flowers of Evil by Baudelaire and Wilde’s numerous works. Aestheticism was used as tool by dandies in rebellious performances in Paris and London, manifesting the contradiction between the spiritual and the material, the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie, and art and nature.

The social backgrounds and life experiences of Baudelaire and Wilde influenced their transformation into dandies during the time of the French Revolution and the Victorian period. Fashionable and showy appearance, and elegant but ironical language were about the pursuit of external, artificial forms in daily life and work well; without any formal career or any goals in life, dandies’ concern was pleasure seeking through consuming the visual and actual; with unique aesthetic theories regarding evil, Baudelaire and Wilde criticized the hypocritical bourgeois morality and values, revealing the real ugly and evil reality beneath prosperous industrial society. To escape a reality in which they felt marginalised and alienated, dandies created their own art world in opposition to the real one. This was achieved using various original styles. In summary, using the city as the stage, and unique aesthetic theories as tools, dandies directed and acted in a drama focusing on revolt and resistance against the bourgeois world.

Key words: Dandyism, City, Aestheticism, Revolt.


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