Major Authors

If he had given us nothing more than Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, or Oliver Twist and “Please, sir, can I have some more?” we would probably still be reading Charles Dickens (1812-1870). And he gave us much, much more. This class will study three of his long novels, taking our time to sink into their immersive worlds of plentiful characters, multiple plots, unexpected connections, zany humor, and searing pathos. They are probably not the novels by him you may have read in high school. The early work Barnaby Rudge is a generally underrated and fascinating historical novel set in the turbulent 1780s. Bleak House is Dickens’s mid-career masterpiece of social critique, analyzing Victorian society from high to lowest of the low. Our Mutual Friend, his last completed novel, is a darkly brilliant work featuring hidden identities, lost fortunes, and (very likely) buried treasure. Students will be asked to give one or two brief oral reports, to write short response papers on a regular basis, and to either write a sustained critical essay or design and present a final creative project.