Department of English

UT Participates in the University of California Dickens Project

The University of California Dickens Project is a scholarly consortium which promotes the interdisciplinary study of Victorian culture and specializes in the works of Charles Dickens. The Project consists of faculty and graduate students from the eight general campuses of the UC system as well as from other participating universities, such as Stanford, USC, Rice, Vanderbilt, University of Iowa, Indiana University, University of South Carolina, Rutgers, Yale, Princeton, NYU, CUNY, Columbia, Exeter, and University of London. This summer's annual “Dickens Universe,” conducted at UC-Santa Cruz, will be held from July 30 through the evening of August 5, and the featured text will be George Eliot's Middlemarch (1871-2). In addition, we will be attending the Project’s international pre-conference, “Form and Reform,” July 27-29.

Activities are held throughout the week and include daily participation in a graduate seminar; studying the primary text and appropriate critical/contextual materials; team-teaching the main text (hour and a quarter sessions over five days) to UC Extension students (classes of about ten, ranging in age from beginning college age to senior citizens who are avid Dickensians); attending lectures, professional workshops, film screenings, RSC Shakespeare productions, and the opening weekend symposium. Three excellent resources are available to those who wish to get an inside picture of the Dickens Universe experience: A must-read for potential participants is Jill Lepore’s New Yorker article, “Dickens in Eden” (August 29, 2011). There is also a short documentary about the “Universe” on YouTube, and many pertinent details can be found on the Dickens Project website.

Previous graduate student participants from UT’s English Department: Mary Field, Ingrid Devilliers, Jessica Kilgore, Travis Brown, Elspeth Palmer, Anna Stewart Kerr, Bo Jacks, Kate Beutner, Jake Ptacek, Jessica Shafer, Pearl Brilmyer, Hala Herbly, Kathleen Zvarych, Chris Ortiz y Prentice, Cole Wehrle, Melissa Smith, Joanna Turner, Susan "George" Schorn, George Christian, Melanie Ulrich, Casey Sloan, Aubrey Plourde, Lily Shu, Dilara Cirit, Megan Snell, Corrie Jacobs, and Jeremy Goheen.
Participating UT faculty this summer will be Carol MacKay.

Previous participating faculty include Jerome Bump, Ann Cvetkovich, Allen MacDuffie, and Sam Baker.

"I made wonderful friends at the Dickens Universe, friends I plan on running into for the rest of my career as a Victorianist. It’s really a great way to build relationships with people in your field.” --Pearl Brilmyer
"Dickens Universe is more than an academic conference; it is a celebration of Victorian literature and culture. The professional camaraderie is palpable. It is a great opportunity to discuss your dissertation project with a wide variety of professors and graduate students." --Kathleen Zvarych

If you would like to participate in this program, submit to Carol MacKay ( a letter of interest by Thursday, January 26. The letter should detail your background in nineteenth-century studies, Dickens, narratology, genre studies, comparative literature, and/or cultural studies, as well as indicate how the program will enhance your graduate studies; you should also include the names of one or two faculty members who can speak to your progress in the graduate program. Please be assured that you do not have to be an expert in Dickens or Eliot or near the end of your graduate career; the program benefits by drawing from a range of fields, interests, and approaches. This is an excellent opportunity to meet and talk with other scholars in Victorian studies. Faculty speakers during the week will include David Kurnick (Rutgers), Nancy Henry (University of Tennessee), Jill Galvan (Ohio State), Joseph Lavery (UC-Berkeley), Dermot Coleman (NYU), Helena Michie (Rice), Daniel Bivona (Arizona State), Ruth Livesey (Royal Holloway), and George Levine (Emeritus Rutgers)