Based in the city that gave Charles Dickens inspiration throughout his writing life, this groundbreaking London research programme offers students unique access not only to world-class scholars and practitioners drawn from the field of Dickens Studies and the media, but furthermore to the unique collections of the Charles Dickens Museum.
It is directed by Professor John Drew and Dr Pete Orford, Dickens experts of international reputation, who are also full-time members of the University’s highly regarded Department of English.
The course enables the student to undertake research on a specific topic, agreed with the supervisor, in any area of Dickens Studies: his novels, short fiction, journalism, plays, the public readings, adaptations of his work (cinematic, theatrical) as well as comparative work on translations, writing by precursors, contemporaries, rivals, imitators and inheritors. The research is presented in the form of three ‘Project Preliminaries’: an extended research proposal, an annotated bibliography, and a short research-based case study for which students will be invited to investigate either the archive holdings of the Charles Dickens Museum or the network of Dickens’s collaborators for his journals, as made available by the University’s celebrated project Dickens Journals Online. On successful completion of these three preliminary projects, students will then progress to their dissertation, written under the guidance of the supervisor, of not less than 20,000 words.
A central feature of the course will be its series of ten evening seminars with distinguished speakers, held both at the University’s Gower Street premises and in the Board Room of the Charles Dickens Museum, each followed by a dinner and discussion, in private rooms at a nearby restaurant in Bloomsbury.
The incredibly wide-reaching influence and impact of Dickens as a writer, performer, editor and social reformer in the English-speaking world means that Dickens Studies can therefore span an equally wide range of research topics right across nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary and print culture. Themes addressed by the seminars will include:
- the lights and shadows of Dickensian biography - Dickens as a short-story writer - Dickens’s reception in the twentieth-century - Dickens and the development of detective and thriller fiction - Dickens’s influence as an editor and social reformer - the cultural importance of adaptations of Dickens’s work - the power of Dickens’s language - the performative nature of Dickensian characters - Dickens in the digital age
The course will begin with three practical seminars about how to choose, research and write an academic dissertation, and how to handle archival materials.