Few authors have so captured the hearts of readers of all ages, genders, and periods as Charles Dickens. From the smokestacks of Coketown, the sufferings of young Oliver Twist, the cobblestones of Paris and the knitting needles of Madame Defarge, through the endless litigation of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, to the expectations of the poor orphan named Pip, Dickens has created compelling scenes and enduring characters whose significance transcends the Victorian period.
In celebration of his 200th birthday, we’re honoring this great writer with a seminar dedicated to his life, his world, and his work. James Thompson will explore the fundamental question of why Dickens became the best known and most beloved Englishman of the nineteenth century. Anne Wallace will explore Dickens’ literary depictions of the rapidly changing modes of travel in nineteenth-century England, from the railway train to walking, and offer some context through a discussion of Dickens’ own travels in England and overseas, especially in America. Using anecdotes, analysis, and large doses of humor, Elliot Engel will explore the fascinating influence that melodrama played in the early works of Charles Dickens. Longtime readers and newcomers to the author will have the chance to satisfy their curiosity on all things Dickens with our experts in the panel session at the end of the seminar.