Dickens Day 2012: Dickens and Popular Culture
Saturday 13th October 2012, Senate House, London
Keynote speaker: Professor Juliet John
Dickens Day, now in its 26th year, is celebrating 2012 with a theme that explores Dickens’s popularity and his engagement with non-elite cultures from his own time to the present. On the evidence of bicentenary Dickens fervour, the author is as popular now as he has ever been. This year has been punctuated by Dickens serials on TV, heartfelt tributes from popular writers, mass-selling biography, collective reading projects, Dickens hip-hop performances, and a global read-a-thon. How can we account for this continuing engagement, across different genres and various cultural contexts? What is it that allows Dickens’s work its particular “portability” (to use Juliet John’s term)? And what are the political and personal investments in forms of Dickensian popularity? How does this relate to Dickens’s own aspirations, and to the forms in which his work first appeared? These are some of the questions that the day seeks to address.
Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers from Dickensians of all backgrounds and career stages. There will be a panel featuring research inspired by that of the late Sally Ledger, whose book Dickens and the Popular Radical Imagination is an important foundation for our thinking about this event. Please indicate on your proposal if you would like to be considered for this panel.
The plan (in line with the momentous scale of this year) is to consider Dickens’s role in popular culture from his own age to ours. The day will be divided in two, with morning sessions looking at Dickens ‘Then’ (i.e. – the nineteenth century) and the afternoon at ‘Now’.
Topics might include, but are by no means limited to, the following:
· Popular entertainment and culture, fairs, circuses, street performers, Astley’s, ‘The Amusements of the People’, Hard Times;
· Theatre, film, television, adaptations in all media;
· Neo-Dickensiana, re-tellings and re-imaginings, Drood completions;
· Public Readings (by Dickens and others), Penny reading groups;
· The Press, journalism, editing, reporting;
· Charitable activities, Urania Cottage, Hospital for Sick Children, Working Men’s Institutes;
· Schools and education;
· Literary festivals, Dickens tourism, museums, homes, walking tours, the ‘Dickens World’ theme park;
· Global impact, the reception of Dickens abroad, Dickens in non-Western and colonial and postcolonial cultures and contexts;
· Celebratory exhibitions and events;
· Advertising; technological developments;
· Rap, hip-hop, dance, performance art: non-literary mediations of Dickens’s work
· Bicentennial representations and interpretations of Dickens, his life and his work
The deadline for paper proposals is 31 May 2012.