Colette Colligan is Professor of English at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada. She is co-founder of SFU Library’s Digital Humanities Innovation Lab and directs a study abroad field school in France in partnership with the Université de Tours. She specialises in book history, print and media culture, and digital cultural heritage, with a particular focus on transnational 19th- and 20th-century cultures and sexual history. Her most recent book, A Publisher’s Paradise. Expatriate Literary Culture in Paris, 1890-1960, explores the political and cultural dynamics that made Paris a publishing outpost for anglophone literary and sexual vanguardism from Wilde to Nabokov. Her research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Print and media culture; book history; 19th- and 20th-century literature and culture; transnational cultural formations; history of sexuality and pornography; digital humanities; digital cultural heritage; memory institutions; archive theory
Wilde News Abroad: International Journalism and Oscar Wilde’s London Trials
My project explores the journalistic processes that mediated the international circulation of one of the most sensational news stories of the late nineteenth century: the three famous criminal trials of Anglo-Irish playwright Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). Wilde’s three trials, which gripped London and the world over for two months in spring 1895, famously led to his conviction for “gross indecency” under Britain’s Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, and to his two-year imprisonment with hard labour. As his arrest occurred at the height of his celebrity, at the very moment that his plays The Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest were being performed on the London stage, his trials were a global media sensation, triggering social debates about homosexuality, metropolitan degeneracy, and aristocratic privilege, and fueling journalistic competition to get the news first.
Combining archival research on international news agencies with computational approaches for gathering and analysing newspaper coverage, this project retraces for the first time the practices of international news agencies and newspapers in circulating news stories about Wilde’s trials across borders and languages and in cities across Europe, North America, and worldwide. Using the Wilde trials as a case study, I will contribute a new cultural analysis of the history of international journalism and its mediating role in cultural globalisation at a time when global telegraphic communications were reaching maturity. My research is affiliated with the Centre d'Histoire Culturelle des Sociétés Contemporaines (CHCSC) at Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ), and the Transfopress Research Network based in Paris, as well as SFU Library’s Digital Humanities Innovation Lab.