The Ballad of Oscar Wilde crosses national, historical, and linguistic borders to examine Wilde’s poetry, literature, and influence as poet of Reading prison. Focusing on the writings derived from his prison cell at Reading—namely, his letter De Profundis and his poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol—as well as the ways in which his remembrance extended beyond Reading into the twentieth century, I make a case for the marked and continuing influence that poetry and poetics had on Wilde, on the development of his deepened aestheticism, and on his writing as he dealt with the trials of his imprisonment. I center the crucial role of poetry in the seemingly most unlikely of places—the prison walls of Reading and beyond. I use a comparative methodology of close reading, comparative analysis, and historic contextualization.
My dissertation was completed and filed in 2022 for my PhD degree in Comparative Literature at Emory University. It is held in the Emory Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Repository.