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Unit information: Charles Dickens in 2016/17

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Unit name Charles Dickens
Unit code ENGLM3019
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. James
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Dickens has been regarded as both a crowd-pleasing sensationalist and a highly sophisticated literary innovator. This unit seeks to put these and other definitions of the author to the test. In addition to tracing the contemporary public and critical reception of Dickens's fictions and relating these to the works of his peers, the course will draw upon modern critical preoccupations, such as narrative theories, gender theories and psychoanalysis. Among the topics for exploration will be: artifice and caricature; violence, the grotesque and the carnivalesque; issues of gender and sexuality; the figure of the orphan or neglected child; the conventions of melodrama; strategies of suspense; tropes and techniques of revelation and concealment; the development of Dickens&?s narrative style from novel to novel.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes will include: an understanding of the literary, cultural and socio-political contexts within which Dickens's novels are located; an exploration of the value systems underlying the texts; an awareness of the range and diversity of Dickens's writings, of his importance as an innovator and of some of the central concerns and issues that recur in his novels; the examination of selected works by means of close textual analysis and by engagement with various critical and theoretical perspectives.

Teaching Information

10 x 2-hour seminar, 1 reading week, 11 Consultation Hours

Assessment Information

One summative essay of 5,000 words

Reading and References

  • Oliver Twist (1837-38), ed. Philip Horne (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2002)
  • Dombey and Son (1848), ed. Andrew Sanders (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2002)
  • Bleak House (1852-53), ed. Nicola Bradbury (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1996)
  • Hard Times (1854), ed. Kate Flint (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1995)
  • Little Dorrit (1855-57), ed. Stephen Wall and Helen Small (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2005)
  • Our Mutual Friend (1864-65), ed. Adrian Poole (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003)