Q3003 Special Author: Charles Dickens Tutor Dr Hannah Field



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Q3003 Special Author: Charles Dickens

Tutor Dr Hannah Field

Room Arts B, B242

Email h.field@sussex.ac.uk

Office hours Tuesday 10–11 a.m. and 2–3 p.m., or by appointment



Module rubric: This module will explore a range of Dickens’s work, and will include discussion of his journalism and short stories as well as some of the novels. We will look at the development of his career as the most successful and popular novelist of his generation, who used his writing to investigate and actively participate in a wide range of contemporary issues and debates about society and the self between the 1830s and 1870. These include the nature of modern society—particularly the city—and the relationships between social classes, and between the underworld and dominant forms of power; the family as both a social institution and a psychological space; the representation of childhood and femininity; notions of identity along with the relationship between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, conscious and unconscious, mental states. We will explore Dickens’s use, invention, and transformation of particular genres and conventions (fairy-tales, ghost stories, gothic fiction, detective fiction, and grotesque and documentary realism), discussing how his shifting narrative forms and methods relate to the social and psychological themes of his work. Finally, we will use Dickens’s works and persona as an optic for considering a few of the pressing contexts for Victorian reading, including celebrity authorship, the mass reading public, and serial publication.
Teaching: The module is taught by weekly two-hour seminars, starting in week 1.
Assessment: The module will be assessed by a coursework essay of 3,000 words, to be handed in after the Christmas vacation. Please see your Sussex Direct pages for further details. A title and abstract/outline should be submitted to me via email by the end of week 9 (22 November).
Key texts to be studied: The Pickwick Papers, selections from Sketches by Boz and Dickens’s public readings, A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Great Expectations, ‘The Signalman’, selections from The Uncommercial Traveller, Hard Times (via Mousehold Words ).
Module Outline and Reading List
You should focus on reading the primary texts and any other required reading for the weekly seminars, and (if you have time) one or two pieces of criticism. Many pieces of required reading are available on Study Direct (SyD); other items of essential reading will be accessible through the module reading list.
Works of general or biographical interest are as follows:
Lyn Pykett, Critical Issues: Charles Dickens (Palgrave, 2002): a useful general overview.
John O. Jordan, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens (2006): accessible essays on a range of key themes.
John Bowen and Robert Patten, eds, Palgrave Advances in Charles Dickens Studies (2006): some good essays on Dickens’s development as a writer, and on plot and characterisation.
Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life (Penguin, 2011): a good general biography.
Michael Slater, Charles Dickens (Yale, 2009): a more detailed biographical account with scholarly references.
The bibliography gives a fuller list of critical works, which you can consult for your extended essay. This does not cover the entire vast field of Dickens criticism, which you can explore in the Library and online. It is expected that you will come to the seminar prepared to discuss the questions raised at the end of the previous week.
Week-by-week schedule:
WEEK 1 (21 and 22 September)
Introduction: The Pickwick Papers
Essential reading: The Pickwick Papers (1836).
G. K. Chesterton, ‘“The Pickwick Papers”’, available online at [SyD].
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, ‘Charles Dickens’, in The Cambridge Companion to English Novelists (2009), ed. Adrian Poole.
WEEK 2 (28 and 29 September)
City Scenes: Dickens as Journalist
Essential reading: ‘scenes’ from Sketches by Boz—‘The Streets: Morning’, ‘The Streets: Night’, ‘Shops and Their Tenants’, ‘Seven Dials’, ‘Meditations in Monmouth Street’ [SyD].
Additional reading:
Theodor Adorno, ‘The Essay as Form’ (1958), trans. Bob Hullot-Kentor and Frederic Will, New German Critique 32 (1984).
Alison Byerly, ‘Effortless Art: The Sketch in Nineteenth-Century Painting and Literature’, Criticism 41 (1999).
John Drew, Dickens the Journalist (Palgrave, 2003).
Michael Slater, ed., introduction to ‘Sketches by Boz’ and Other Early Papers, vol. 1 of The Dent Uniform Edition of Dickens’s Journalism (Ohio, 1994).
WEEK 3 (5 and 6 October)
Dreams, Memory, and Haunting: A Christmas Carol
Essential reading: A Christmas Carol (1843).
‘New Discoveries in Ghosts’, from Household Words [SyD].
Additional reading:
‘Dreams’, in Embodied Selves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts (Oxford, 1998), ed. Jenny Bourne Taylor and Sally Shuttleworth.
Audrey Jaffe, ‘Spectacular Sympathy: Visuality and Ideology in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol’, PMLA 109 (1994).
Paul David, The Life and Times of Ebenezer Scrooge (Yale, 1990).
Jenny Bourne Taylor, ‘Obscure Recesses: Locating the Victorian Unconscious’, in Writing and Victorianism (Longman, 1998), ed. B. J. Bullen.

WEEK 4 (12 and 13 October)
Victorian Reading, I: Dickens as Celebrity Author
Essential reading: excerpts from Dickens’s Public Readings, ed. Philip Collins (Clarendon, 1975), pp. xvii–xxxvi, 465–86 [access via reading list].
Wilkie Collins, ‘The Unknown Public’, in Household Words [SyD].
Helen Small, ‘A Pulse of 124: Dickens and a Pathology of the Mid-Victorian Reading Public’, in The Practice and Representation of Reading in England (Cambridge, 1996), ed. James Raven, Small, and Naomi Tadmor [access via reading list].
Additional materials:
Malcolm Andrews, Charles Dickens and His Performing Selves: Dickens and the Public Readings (Oxford, 2006).
‘Charles Dickens: Celebrity Author’, OpenLearn podcast available online at .
Susan L. Ferguson, ‘Dickens’s Public Readings and the Victorian Author’, SEL 41 (2001).

Reading Experience Database UK, < http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/reading/UK/>.
WEEK 5 (19 and 20 October)
Bleak House, I: Narrative Form and Contexts
Essential reading: Bleak House (1852–53), chapters 1–16.
‘The Great Exhibition and the Little One’, from Household Words [SyD].
Additional reading:
James Buzard, ‘Anywhere’s Nowhere: Bleak House as Autoethnography’, Yale

Journal of Criticism 12 (1999).
D. A. Miller, ‘Discipline in Different Voices: Bureaucracy, Police, Family, and Bleak House’, in The Novel and the Police (California, 1989).
Jeremy Tambling, ed., ‘Bleak House’: Charles Dickens, New Casebooks (Palgrave Macmillan, 1998).
J. Hillis Miller, ‘Moments of Decision in Bleak House’, in Cambridge Companion to Dickens.
WEEK 6 (26 and 27 October)
Bleak House, II: Self and Social Structure
Essential reading: Bleak House—full text.
Additional reading: as for week 5, plus
Lauren M. E. Goodlad, ‘Is There a Pastor in the House?: Sanitary Reform, Philanthropy and Professionalism in Dickens’s Mid-Century Fiction’, Victorian Literature and Culture 31(2003).
WEEK 7 (2 and 3 November): READING WEEK—NO SEMINARS
WEEK 8 (9 and 10 November)
Little Dorrit, I: Victorian Money
Essential reading: Little Dorrit (1855–57), chapters 1–36 (aka ‘Book the First: Poverty’).
Additional reading:
Michael Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Melville House, 2012).
Nicholas Shrimpton, ‘“Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side”: Money in Victorian Literature’, in Victorian Literature and Finance (Oxford, 2007), ed. Francis O’Gorman.
Barbara Weiss, ‘Bankruptcy as Metaphor: Social Apocalypse (Little Dorrit, The Way We Live Now)’, in The Hell of the English: Bankruptcy and the Victorian Novel (Bucknell, 1986).
WEEK 9 (16 and 17 November)
Little Dorrit, II: Imprisonment and the Carceral
Essential reading: Little Dorrit—full text.
Michel Foucault, ‘The Carceral’, in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan, 2nd ed. (New York, 1995) [access via reading list].
Additional reading:
Elaine Showalter, ‘Guilt, Authority, and the Shadows of Little Dorrit’, Nineteenth-Century Fiction 34 (1979).
Lionel Trilling, ‘Little Dorrit’, The Kenyon Review 15 (1953).
Athena Vrettos, ‘Defining Habits: Dickens and the Psychology of Repetition’, Victorian Studies 42 (1999).
N.B., your essay titles and abstracts/outlines are due by the end of this week. Further details to be provided in seminar.
WEEK 10 (23 and 24 November)
The Return of the Repressed: ‘The Signalman’, Great Expectations, and

The Uncommercial Traveller
Essential reading: ‘The Signalman’, from Mugby Junction [SyD].
‘Dulborough Town’ and ‘Nurses’ Stories’, from The Uncommercial Traveller [SyD].
Great Expectations (1861). [N.B., you can look through this quickly as you’ve studied it recently.]
Additional reading:
Malcolm Andrews, Dickens and the Grown-Up Child (Palgrave Macmillan, 1994).
Jill Matus, ‘Trauma, Memory, and Railway Disaster: The Dickensian Connection’, Victorian Studies 43 (2001).
Anny Sadrin, Parentage and Inheritance in the Novels of Charles Dickens (Cambridge, 2010).
Peter Brooks, ‘Repression, Repetition and Return’, in Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative (New York, 1984).
WEEK 11 (30 November and 1 December)
Victorian Reading, II: Serial/Digital Victorians
Essential reading: Hard Times, read serially via Mousehold Words.
Additional reading: You could look at the following sites and think about their approach to digitising/exploring Victorian literature:


  • BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History,

  • ‘The Charles Dickens Manuscripts’, V&A

  • Dickens Journals Online,



WEEK 12 (7 and 8 December)
Research and Essay Consultations

General Reading List



Biography, letters, and reference works
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist (Harvard, 2011).

John Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens (1872–74): the contemporary life, by Dickens’s friend (also contains the ‘Autobiographical Fragment’ written by Dickens).

Fred Kaplan, Dickens: A Biography, paperback ed. (Johns Hopkins, 1998).

The Letters of Charles Dickens, 12 vols, Pilgrim ed., ed. Madeline House, Graham Storey, and Kathleen Tillotson (Oxford, 1965–2002).

Michael Slater, Charles Dickens [see above].

———, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Dickens (Duckworth, 1996).

Paul Schlicke, The Oxford Reader’s Companion to Dickens (1999).

Grahame Smith, Charles Dickens: A Literary Life (Basingstoke, 1996).

Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens [see above].



Critical studies and collections of criticism
Harold Bloom, ed., Charles Dickens, Bloom’s Modern Critical Views, new ed. (Chelsea House, 2006).

John Bowen, Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewick (Oxford, 2000).

John Butt and Kathleen Tillotson, Dickens at Work (Methuen, 1956)

Kathryn Chittick, Dickens and the 1830s (Cambridge, 1990).

Phillip Collins, Dickens and Crime, 3rd ed. (St Martins, 1964).

———, ed., Dickens: The Critical Heritage (Routledge, 1971).

Steven Connor, Charles Dickens (Basil Blackwell, 1985).

Kate Flint, Dickens (Harvester, 1986).

George H. Ford, Dickens and His Readers: Aspects of Novel Criticism since 1836 (Princeton, 1955).

Robert Garis, The Dickens Theatre: A Reassessment of the Novels (Oxford, 1965).

John Glavin, After Dickens: Reading, Adaptation and Performance (Cambridge, 1999).

Jenny Hartley, Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women (Methuen, 2009).

Michael Hollington, Dickens and the Grotesque (Croom Helm, 1984).

Audrey Jaffe, Vanishing Points: Dickens, Narrative, and the Subject of Omniscience (California, 1991).

Wendy S. Jacobson, ed., Dickens and the Children of Empire (Palgrave, 2000).

Juliet John, Dickens’s Villains: Melodrama, Character, Popular Culture (Oxford, 2000).

———, Dickens and Mass Culture (Oxford, 2010)

John O. Jordan, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens (2001).

Fred Kaplan, Dickens and Mesmerism: The Hidden Springs of Fiction (Princeton, 1975).

James Kincaid, Dickens and the Rhetoric of Laughter (Clarendon, 1971).

Sally Ledger, Dickens and the Radical Popular Imagination (Cambridge, 2007).

Sally Ledger and Holly Furneaux, eds, Charles Dickens in Context (Cambridge, 2011).

John Lucas, Dickens: The Major Novels (Penguin, 1992).

Steven Marcus, Dickens: From Pickwick to Dombey (Chatto and Windus, 1965).

Jerome Meckier, Hidden Rivalries in Victorian Fiction: Dickens, Realism and Revaluation (Kentucky, 1987).

J. Hillis Miller, Charles Dickens: The World of his Novels (Harvard, 1958).

———, Victorian Subjects (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990).

Brian Roseberry, Little Dorrit’s Shadows: Character and Contradiction in Dickens (Missouri, 1996).

Anny Sadrin, Parentage and Inheritance in the Novels of Charles Dickens (Cambridge, 1994).

John Schaad, Dickens Refigured: Bodies, Desires and Other Histories (Manchester, 1996).

Paul Schlicke, Dickens and Popular Entertainment (Allen and Unwin, 1985).

Hilary Schor, Dickens and the Daughter of the House (Cambridge, 1999).

F. S. Schwarzbach, Dickens and the City (Athlone, 1979).

Michael Slater, Dickens and Women (Dent, 1983).

Grahame Smith, Dickens, Money and Society (California, 1968).

———, Dickens and the Dream of Cinema (Manchester, 2004).

Garrett Stewart, Dickens and the Trials of the Imagination (Harvard, 1974).

Harry Stone, Dickens and the Invisible World: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Novel Making (Indiana, 1979).

———, The Night-Side of Dickens: Cannibalism, Passion, Necessity (Ohio, 1994).

Jeremy Tambling, Dickens, Violence and the Modern State: Dreams of the Scaffold (Macmillan, 1996).

Deborah A. Thomas, Dickens and the Short Story (Batsford, 1992).

Daniel Tyler, ed., Dickens’s Style (Cambridge, 2013).

Stephen Wall, ed., Charles Dickens: A Critical Anthology (Penguin, 1970).

Dennis Walder, Dickens and Religion (Allen and Unwin, 1981).

Catherine Waters, Dickens and the Politics of the Family (Cambridge, 1997).

Alexander Welsh, The City of Dickens (Clarendon, 1971).

———, From Copyright to Copperfield: The Identity of Dickens (Harvard, 1987).

———, Dickens Redressed: The Art of ‘Bleak House’ and ‘Hard Times’ (Yale, 2000).


Other useful critical and contextual studies
Richard D. Altick, The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public (Chicago, 1957).

Phillipe Ariès, Centuries of Childhood, trans. Robert Baldick (Penguin, 1979).

Nancy Armstrong, Fiction in the Age of Photography: The Legacy of British Realism (Harvard, 1999).

Christine van Boheeman, The Novel as Family Romance: Language, Gender and Authority from Fielding to Joyce (Cornell, 1988).

Patrick Brantinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism 1830–1914 (Cornell, 1988).

Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative (Harvard, 1985).

Kellow Chesney, The Victorian Underworld (History Book Club, 1970).

Carolyn Dever Death and the Mother from Dickens to Freud: Victorian Fiction and the Anxiety of Origins (Cambridge, 1998).

Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality, vol. 1: Will to Knowledge (Edinburgh, 2013).

Peter K. Garrett, The Victorian Multiplot Novel: Studies in Dialogical Form (Yale, 1980).

Joseph Litvak Caught in the Act: Theatricality in the Nineteenth-Century Novel (California, 1996).

D. A. Miller, The Novel and the Police (California, 1982).

Lynda Nead, Myths of Sexuality: Representations of Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Blackwell, 1988).

Mary Poovey, Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work in Gender in Nineteenth-Century England (Virago, 1989).

———, Making a Social Body: British Cultural Formation 1830–1870 (Chicago, 1995).

Michael Ragussis, Acts of Naming: the Family Plot in Fiction (Oxford, 1986).

Jenny Bourne Taylor and Sally Shuttleworth, eds, Embodied Selves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts (Oxford, 1998).

James Walvin, A Child’s World: A Social History of English Childhood, 1800–1914 (Penguin, 1982).

Alex Woloch, The One vs. the Many: Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel (Princeton, 1998).

Alison Winter, Mesmerised: Powers of Mind in Victorian Culture (Chicago, 1998).



Viviana A. Zelizer, Pricing the Priceless Child: The Changing Social Value of Children (Zone, 1985).
Materials on individual novels
In addition to the materials listed week-by-week above, the Dickens Project gives substantial bibliographies for each of Dickens’s novels: .
Hannah Field, September 2015
Image at top: Thomas Nast’s caricature of Dickens and the ‘honest little boy’ from 1868—mocking Dickens’s use of the dropped h in his cockney characters’ speech.





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