Decadent Literature

Subject ENGL30016 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 170 hours across the semester, including class time.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:

670-332 Decadent Literature

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Assoc Prof Clara Tuite


Dr Clara Tuite

Subject Overview:

This subject examines decadence as a textual, historical, sexual and cultural formation, across a range of literary texts of the 19th and early 20th centuries. A predominantly masculine mode of radical aestheticism, manifesting symptoms of cultural crisis and informed by anxieties about class, gender and sexuality, decadence elaborated such key figures of modernity as the dandy, femme fatale, fetishist and aesthete. Students will be introduced to European and British varieties of literary decadence and aestheticism; art for art's sake theories of aesthetic production; relations between lifestyle, aestheticism and commodity culture; and emergent discourses of degeneration and sexology. The subject asks students to consider how decadent aestheticism was shaped by regulatory categories of taste and vulgarity, and by cultural practices of tastemaking, lifestyling and the aestheticisation of sexuality. Students will also consider the relationship between sexual dissidence and social and cultural distinction as produced in the representative examples of decadent literature studied.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the subject students should have:

  • a first-hand acquaintance with some representative examples of decadent literature;
  • an understanding of the controversies provoked by the original publication of decadent literature and later reconsiderations of it;
  • a familiarity with a range of theoretical, critical and literary-historical approaches to the cultural phenomenon of decadence.

An essay of 1500 words 40% (due mid-semester) and an essay of 2500 words 60% (due in the examination period). This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 80% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader including poetry by Charles Baudelaire and A.C. Swinburne, Oscar Wilde's Salomé and short novels by Renée Vivien and Ronald Firbank will be available.

  • A rebours (Against Nature) J-K Huysmans, OUP
  • The Spoils of Poynton H James, Penguin
  • Wormwood: A Drama of Paris M Corelli, Broadview
  • Death in Venice T Mann, Harper, Collins
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray O Wilde, Penguin
  • Hauntings and Other Tales V Lee, Broadview
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • be able to apply new research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry;

  • develop critical self-awareness and shape and strengthen persuasive arguments;

  • be able to communicate arguments and ideas effectively and articulately both in writing and to others.


Students who have completed 106-060 Decadence or 106-060 Decadent Literature are not eligible to enrol in this subject.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: English and Theatre Studies
European Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts - English and Theatre Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts - English and Theatre Studies

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