CFP: Dickens Day 2011

25th Anniversary DICKENS DAY
‘Republics of the Imagination: Dickens and Travel’
Saturday 15th October 2011, Senate House, London
Proposals due: 31st May 2011

From stagecoaches to railways, sailing ships to steam ships, travel changed forever over the nineteenth century as new modes of transport enabled people to go faster and further than ever before. Dickens wrote from the heart of this travelling revolution. When he visited America Dickens chose the fastest and most modern form of transatlantic transport – the paddle-steamer. He was keenly aware of the way ‘railway mania’ was changing the face of the country, and of the opportunities (and dangers) created by the new railways. Yet nostalgic depictions of stagecoach travel also run through much of his fiction.  Dickens’s trips to America, Italy, France and Switzerland are immortalised in his writing – as is Australia which he visited only in his imagination. The exotic worlds of The Arabian Nights and The Tales of the Genii from his childhood reading are revisited again and again in his works.  

This one-day conference will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Dickens Day. Jointly run by Birkbeck, University of Leicester and the Dickens Fellowship, it will explore Dickens’s travels and travels in Dickens. Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers on any aspect of the theme and postgraduate students are warmly encouraged to apply.

Topics could include but are not limited to:

  • Carriages, steamships, trains: nineteenth-century modes of travel
  • The Grand Tour: travel, class and education in the nineteenth century
  • Sentimental journeys: Dickens, travel writing and affect
  • The literary heritage: responses to Smollett, Sterne and eighteenth-century travel writing
  • Dealings with the firm of Dombey and Son: Dickens, empire and trade
  • Telling American tales: Charles Dickens, Frances Trollope, Harriet Martineau, and Captain Marryat
  • Pictures from Italy and travels in France and Switzerland
  • Dickens’s travels in the imagination: Australia, India, Africa
  • Exotic literary travels: The Arabian Nights and The Tales of the Genii
  • The Uncommercial Traveller: travels in human interest
  • Town and country: from the metropolitan to the provincial in Dickens
  • Romances of the high seas: ships, ports and sea yarns
  • That magic lantern: Dickens’s travels in London; night walks and rookeries  
  • The reluctant traveller: Dickens, travel and domesticity
  • Place, space and otherness in Dickens’s work

Please send proposals (maximum 500 words), together with details of your institutional affiliation (if any) to Holly Furneaux, Ben Winyard and Bethan Carney, at, and The deadline for paper proposals is 31 May 2011.


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