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The 2022 Wilde and Joyce Symposium
May 5-6, 2022
Fun Fact: Trinity College Dublin is Oscar Wilde’s alma mater. He attended with a royal scholarship to read classics from 1871 to 1874. Wilde was an outstanding Trinner, having come first in his class in first year, winning a scholarship by competitive examination in his second year and, in his finals, won the Berkeley Gold Medal in Greek, one of the University’s highest academic awards. The Oscar Wilde Centre, which houses the M.Phil. in Irish Writing and the M.Phil. in Creative Writing at Trinity, was built out of the Westland Row House where Wilde was born.
Despite common misconception, James Joyce never attended Trinity College. Instead, he was a student at University College Dublin from 1898 to 1902. Even major news outlets and Trinity’s own social media team frequently get it wrong, including his name among their famous literary alumni such as Wilde, Beckett, Stoker, and Swift. Joyce, who was schooled beyond his means, would not have had the resources to attend Trinity. Very few Catholics attended the Protestant university around this time, though the reasons were often more means-based than creed, which was less of a barrier to entry than it became after Joyce’s time.
In the “Circe” episode of Ulysses, Leopold Bloom mistakenly identifies Stephen Dedalus as a Trinity student, lumping him in with his friends who are “Trinity medicals” while trying to convince the brothel madam not to call for the police when he breaks a lamp. Stephen, being Joyce’s alter ego in Portrait and Ulysses, faces the same fate as Joyce: art imitating life, or life imitating art?