Dickensian Binge (LIT4174.01)

Manuel Gonzales

Let’s start with this hot-take — Charles Dickens was the Shonda Rhimes of Victorian-era serialized storytelling — and see what happens when we go from there. With his serialized novels, beginning with The Pickwick Papers, published in monthly installments from March 1836 until November 1837, Dickens helped refashion the publishing world and storytelling itself. Dude could tell a good story and tell it well, create intricate and surprising plots, recognizable and enjoyable heroes and villains, and through this, he captured the imaginations of his readers to the extent that, in 1841, in Boston and New York, crowds number in the thousands gathered at the docks waiting for the next installment of his novel, The Curiosity Shop, breathless with anticipation. “Is Little Nell dead?” they cried out. But: spoilers. We wouldn’t want to give it away. Regardless, it’s commonly accepted that Dickens was an uncommonly good storyteller, but what happens, then, when we turn our critical eye towards his work? Was he more than a master of plot? Can the most bingeable author of 19th century lit offer us more than a great and thrilling read? What else can be said of his fiction, his authorial gaze and what it was turned to? Did his focus on the gritty realism of Victorian England help shape social reform? We’ll see what we can uncover while reading and discussing four novels — David Copperfield, Little Dorritt, Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations — reading critical work devoted to Dickens, as well as exploring reviews and essays published about Dickens in his own time.


Learning Outcomes:



Delivery Method: Remotely accessible
Prerequisites: Students must submit a four to six page piece of writing (prose, either scholarly or creative) to manuelgonzales@bennington.edu by November XX in order to be considered for the class.
Corequisites: Students enrolled in this course are required to attend Wednesday night literature events.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Literature , Remotely Accessible
Tags: , , , ,