Extracts from DICKNS-L and VICTORIA


  1. To Search Files of DICKNS-L (Patrick McCarthy)
  2. Christmas, 1997 (Patrick McCarthy)
  3. The Third Annual Dickens Symposium (Bob Heaman)
  4. Critical Change in Dickens Studies (Patrick McCarthy)
  5. Dickens Universe, 1996: A Report (Monica Bosson)
  6. A Dickens Glossary for Americans (Fred Levit)

To Search Files of DICKNS-L (Patrick McCarthy)

Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 14:21:51 -0800
Sender: Charles Dickens Forum
From: Patrick McCarthy

Dear admirers of the INIMITABLE,

Occasionally one of you asks whether it is possible to search the files of DICKNS-L to see, for example, whether there has been a useful posting on a topic or book of interest. Yes, it is possible, and here is how to do it.

Direct your message to LISTSERV@UCSBVM.UCSB.EDU.

The message will be something like--
SEARCH "journalism" SINCE 1 JAN 95 IN DICKNS-L

PLEASE, note the time and subject delimiters. There are five years of files now, and an unlimted search will choke the computer.

You will receive a reply telling you how many instances of the word you have asked about, each instance in a brief verbal context, and exact directions on how to ask the listserv to send you the postings you want.

Searching is not difficult. You may have to re-word your request to roust out what you want.


Patrick McCarthy, UC Santa Barbara

Christmas, 1997 (Patrick McCarthy)

Approved-By: Patrick McCarthy
Date: Thu, 25 Dec 1997 11:22:39 -0800
Reply-To: Charles Dickens Forum
Sender: Charles Dickens Forum
From: Patrick McCarthy
Subject: Christmas, 1997

Dear lovers of Dickens,

It is Christmas morning in the western segment of the United States. Like many of you we have been reading the CAROL with friends, looking over the"good humoured Christmas Chapter" (28) of PICKWICK, and thinking "there NEVER was such a Christmas" writer as Dickens.

As for Christmas greetings, we will steal his 1854 characteristic version to Miss Burdett Coutts:

"Many many merry Christmases and Happy New Years to you, and all of you!"

Patrick McCarthy
Editor, DICKNS-L

and--like many of you your editor has with you been re-reading the Carol and chapter 28, the "good-humoured Christmas Chapter" in _Pickwick_ chapter in the Dickens

The Third Annual Dickens Symposium (Bob Heaman)

Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 10:06:58 -0500
From: Bob Heaman <bheaman@wilkes.edu>
To: dickns-l@UCSBVM.ucsb.edu
Subject: Dickens Symposium: Call for Proposals

The third annual Dickens Symposium sponsored by the Dickens Society will be held on the campus of Wilkes University, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 2-4, 1998.

Presentations should be no longer than ten typed, double spaced pages, readable in twenty minutes. There are no restrictions as to subject, so long as it is Dickens and his works. Papers will be scheduled so as to allow time for discussion after each presentation. Deadline for submission is March 31, 1998. One to two page proposals should be addressed to the conference chair, Bob Heaman, at the Department of English, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pa, 18766. Fax submissions may go to (717) 408-7860; email bheaman@wilkes.edu.

Critical Change in Dickens Studies (Patrick McCarthy)

Approved-By: Patrick McCarthy
Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 12:45:01 -0700
Reply-To: Charles Dickens Forum
Sender: Charles Dickens Forum
From: Patrick McCarthy Subject: Critical Change in Dickens Studies
To: Multiple recipients of list DICKNS-L
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

We had so long been used to finding installments of its "Currents of Critical Change" in the DICKENS QUARTERLY that we felt a twinge of disappointment when the March, '96 issue arrived. The series had ended last December, and those who missed it in part or whole may find useful an account of what it had covered. We shall put off to a second posting the final wrap-up of the survey in December, 1995, and meanwhile ask for responses and other points of view.

First, however, we want to tip the hat in thanks to David Paroissian, that most self-effacing of general editors. He announced the series in December, 1992 and has seen it through to a thumping conclusion.

The principal authors of the series are Ella Westland and Simon Trezise of Exeter University, who appear not only to have had the idea of reviewing the changes in Dickens criticism but also of inviting suggestions and criticisms as the series went along. After an introductory piece (12/92), identifying themselves and laying out the wider critical contexts of writing on Dickens since 1970, the authors took turns writing articles on various aspects of their subject:

Tresize: "The Making of Dickens:
a)--Three Themes in the Criticism of 1837-1939" (9/93); (the contradictory emphases on CD as realist or non-realist; Dickens as "pleasant reformer or unpleasant revolutionary"; Dickens as figure through whom readers's preoccupations [stage, politics, gender] may be explored
b)--Aspects of Biographical Criticism" (3/94); (Major biographies of Dickens in relation to their fictionality, historical con-textualization, and psychological methods)
c)--The Evolution of Marxist Criticism) (9/94) (from T.A. Jack son. R. Williams, W. Benjamin to a later generation: P. Morris, E. Said, T. Eagleton}

Westland: a) Conflicts in Criticism 1940-70" (12/93) (traces the separation of spheres between lay and professional readers, the growth of interest in Dickens in the universities, and the two major strands of criticism represented by Leavis and Wilson) b) "Dickens and Women" (12/94); (the dramatic rise of feminist work on Dickens with K. Millet's work the watershed and the increasing depth and sophistication of such studies) c) "The Dickens Survey--Exclusive!" (9/95)(A survey of some twenty Dickens specialists on their personal involvement, professional motivations, preferred approaches to Dickens studies, and predictions; and another of forty-four readers affiliated with the Dickens Fellowship)

These articles are marvels of compression and organization. With so much material to draw upon they have chosen well and brought clarity to a subject of labyrinthine diversity. For young professionals newly interested in Dickens, their survey deserves to be called indispensable. There is nothing else any- where like it. It retraces usefully the general lines of development (covered wonderfully in the past by Ada Nisbet and Philip Collins) and takes them up to the 90's. There are omissions of course (most notably of Fred Kaplan's biography), but no slight- ings of particular trends. They have kept in mind as well as they could the Dickens of the academic world and the Dickens of popular appeal.

Trezise and Westland think of themselves (and prove to be) well positioned to make such a survey. With academic roots in London, Bristol, and Oxford in the '70's and in Westland further work at the Harvard of the early 80's, they felt the force of the Leavis influence, and then that of Raymond Williams and Terry Eagleton. In the 80's in America--and later in England--they gradually felt "the extent to which critical thinking is determined by ideological and institutional structures."

Their work is inflected by a refreshing sense of their own historical and cultural contingency. This helps, of course, but the primary value of their essays (beside what is said above) is the knowledge and sophistication each demonstrates. Time and again I was struck by evidence of their balance and generosity to the work they were surveying. Finally, neither is ineluctably committed to a critical position; both engage the broad range of Dickens studies and celebrate the dynamics of change.

The seventh and last segment of the series "Dickens and Critical Change" appeared in the DICKENS QUARTERLY in December, 1995. Here David Paroissien has gathered seven pieces to conclude the series with a fairly wide glance at the contemporary scene. As mentioned in my last DICKNS-L posting, Ella Westland's helpful way of gauging the situation was to report on a two-part survey of current attitudes to Dickens studies (one featuring academics, the second lay readers).

But before we get the survey we hear again from Simon Trezise, then from Michael Hollington (editor of the four-volume CHARLES DICKENS: CRITICAL ASSESSMENTS), Nina Diakonova on Russian studies of Dickens, Anny Sadrin on French studies, Susan Horton on teaching Dickens in American departments of English, and Malcolm Andrews on time, place, and the Dickensians.

Tresize and Horton "by indirections find directions out." At first we do not know where they are heading but both lead us clearly there. Tresize gives examples of how Dickens tends to move in and out of certain characters by shifting pronouns. We are made to slide from the narrator's viewpoint into the characters' so that we move from patronizing to empathizing with the downtrodden. In Dickens's work as a whole, the tension between the individual and the collective body is unresolved though Dickens is at times aware of it. Tresize returns then to the social critics of Dickens he most admires and worries that pressures "to join the powerful culture of individualism" may make "the Dickens Project more of a competition than a shared mission."

Horton, also with responsibility on her mind, practically and engagingly addresses the problem of English departments forced on the one hand to provide more courses so that students can "improve their writing" and on the other driven to teach the texts, particularly those of Dickens, they believe in and love so much. Horton is no elitist, and she worries about students: "What will they write about, and from what vantage point?" Horton's is a fresh consideration of an old American problem, and she looks at the question from several relevant viewpoints. Not least of these is the value of the pleasures of the text for all concerned.

Andrews also has two constituencies in mind, lay and professional readers. As editor of THE DICKENSIAN, he has kept the magazine positioned "on the fault line between them," while aware also that the some professional readers are active in the Dickens Fellowship. (I remember hearing Michael Slater at a Fellowship gathering giving a wonderful talk which kept in mind the range of his listeners.) Here Andrews connects traditional Fellowship interests--in the topography of the novels, the mysteries surrounding Edwin Drood, and so on--with "the willed dissolution of the distinction of past and present." Dickens lovers want in some regards to keep Dickens alive. They want to perpetuate the fun, "the pleasures of the text," mentioned by Horton. And they want to keep the particularity and complexity of Dickens's times alive, as Andrews himself (we should note) has strikingly done in his recent DICKENS AND THE GROWN-UP CHILD.

The contributions of Dianakova and Sadrin are readable and full of surprises. Dianakova reports on the continuing and lively interest Dickens holds for Russian readers and the broad range of scholarly and critical work being done on him. She des- cribes their main tendency as an attempt to set aside old-style Soviet emphases and to concentrate on "the unique, individual moral and aesthetic value of Dickens's books." Anny Sadrin seems intent on modelling herself on the energy and commitment of her distinguished mentor, Sylvere Monod. She shows us a Dickens not popularly read by the French, nor the specialty of many French scholars, but taught in schools, translated brilliantly by Professor Monod, and the subject of interesting work. Most surprising in her forthright essay is what she says about "critical change" in French studies of Dickens: "Where France is everywhere (rightly) considered to be the country in which critical theory out of confusion sprang, French criticism of Dickens is not quite representative of that national characteristic."

Fresh--or perhaps he would say, "No quite worn out"--from doing his four-volume anthology of Dickens criticism, Michael Hollington reflects on the purposes, problems, and imposed limitations on that work. He then ranges across the Dickens subjects and approaches he believes will attract the best future work. No, he is not at all worn out. Enroute, he throws a roundhouse right at exclusionary practitioners, singling out the "vulgar" Lacanians who dominate some French English departments.

All in all, this is a fascinating series which I hope I have not reduced to rubble in these short summaries. I have intended to alert my fellow Dickensians to individual essays as well as the total range of what they cover. But best read the series for yourselves. James Kincaid is quoted twice, by the way, as saying Dickens studies can be "a fine party."

Patrick McCarthy
UC Santa Barbara

Dickens Universe, 1996: A Report (Monica Bosson)

Approved-By: Patrick McCarthy
Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 10:14:05 -0700
From: Patrick McCarthy
Subject: Dickens Universe, 1996: A Report
To: Multiple recipients of list DICKNS-L

Many thanks to Monica Bosson of UC Santa Barbara for her lively account of this year's Dickens Universe meetings at UC Santa Cruz! (pjm)


With the exception of "The Carol," the Christmas Books were bad, to begin with. This seemed to be the general consensus of faculty, grad. students and Universe "students" at the start of this year's Dickens Universe. Yet, all the participants struggled bravely to approach these texts in ways that redeemed them from this kind of value judgment. Both lecturers and students found themselves returning to discussions of the relative merit of these books throughout the conference; however, by the end of the week, almost everyone championed one (or all) of the books and fought valiantly for the relative merit of their favorite underdog!

As a graduate representative, and a first time participant in the Dickens Universe, I had no idea what to expect. From the first day the atmosphere was warm and inviting, and people maintained their smiles throughout the week despite the sometimes breakneck pace of the conference. Robert Patten's opening lecture, "The Re-Invention of Christmas," provided a solid historical framework on which to build subsequent discussions. Arguing that all five books focus on the reinterpretation of Christmas, the adaptation to urban culture, and the compression of the twelve days of Christmas, Prof. Patten provided us with a helpful way of connecting these five stories. H.M. Daleski's lecture, which also explored recurrent motifs in the five books, asserted that "the Christmas Books may be seen as leading to more important works." For example, he pointed out that Scrooge's "coldness" is a precursor to the later description of Mr. Dombey. The discussion of the Christmas Books as a testing ground for ideas which Dickens later incorporated into his longer novels was a fruitful avenue of exploration. All of a sudden, the books no longer seemed 'bad;' rather, they provided a glimpse into the creative process of the author.

In fact, all of the lectures provided material that made the seminars and workshops seem all too short. The lectures employed a variety of critical approaches, and even a quick sampling will illustrate the breadth of the conference. Elizabeth Gitter's lecture on Bertha Plummer in "The Cricket on the Hearth," and the exclusion of blind girls from the sexual economy and the marriage plot in the nineteenth century, spurred lengthy discussions. In exploring the contradictions inherent in our view of Christmas, Joseph Childers argued that the Victorian Christmas, functioning "like liberal guilt," commodifies the poor because it makes them central to the "selling of Christmas." As evidence, he asserted that Scrooge literally "buys" a family in "The Christmas Carol" to achieve his own redemption. Indeed, Prof. Childers argued that this paradox, that of altruism vs. commodifying the abject, runs throughout the Christmas Books. Focusing on the legal issues in "The Battle of Life," Hilary Schor explored the "shadowy sister text" that Marion Jedler creates by *not* committing adultery: "Marion, through the adultery plot, has access to all the narrative and moral power in the novel." Clearly, there was (and is) much more to be said about these stories than the dearth of published criticism implies. Aided by these and the other lectures, the Christmas Books began to gain stature in all of our eyes.

Of course, the Dickens Universe is not just about lectures -- although Jack Hall's lecture on Moore and Dickens was arguably the most amusing moment of the conference -- and each day was jam-packed with activities. From the Victorian teas, the thrilling Porter meals (how many dishes can you make out of leftover broccoli?), the relaxing Post- prandial Potations, the films, the extraordinary puppet show (who knew it would be that good?), and the bookfairs, to the parties that lasted late into the night (thanks to Fred Greene for acting as the official "cruise director" this year), there never seemed to be enough time to get that necessary load of laundry in the washing machine.

Finally, the week was topped off with the Victorian Spectacle conference. Robert Tracy took on the difficult task of providing the "swing" lecture between the Universe and the weekend conference. Through a memorable discussion of masques, Dickens, the Victorian theater, illustrations, and the Christmas Books, Professor Tracy provided a seamless transition between the two conferences. Although unable to attend all the lectures featured at the weekend conference, the ones I did attend proved that the event was a lively and informative on. Adrienne Munich's lecture, "Good and Plenty: Eating the Queen," elicited excited responses from the audience, as did the panel on Imperial Vistas.

By the end of the week, our sense of being a community was firmly established. All of us had made new friends, strengthened our ties with old friends, and left feeling exhausted but exhilarated. John Jordan's announcement of the topics for next year's Universe and weekend conference was enthusiastically applauded. The Universe will focus on two novels, *David Copperfield* and *Pride and Prejudice,* while the weekend conference, scheduled for August 7th-10th, will complement this dual focus by exploring "Reversions: Twentieth-Century Appropriations of Nineteenth- Century Culture." Like Scrooge, it seemed to me that time had been compressed and the "Spirits" (i.e., the fabulous staff of the Universe) had "done it all" in one week! Heading off for a mini-vacation in San Francisco, I hoped that I would have the chance to do "it all" again next year.

-- Monica Bosson, UCSB

A Dickens Glossary for Americans (Fred Levit)

From owner-dickns-l@UCSBVM.UCSB.EDU Fri Oct 11 04:20 JST 1996
MIME-Version: 1.0
Approved-By: Patrick McCarthy
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 12:13:46 -0700
From: Patrick McCarthy
Subject: A Dickens Glossary for Americans
To: Multiple recipients of list DICKNS-L

Fellow admirers of the "Inimitable":

Fred Levit, friend and contributor to DICKNS-L, has reworked his earlier book, *A Dickens Glossary* (Garland Publishing, 1990), into an attractive paperback with an American emphasis. It is called, as we might all have guessed, *A Dickens Glossary for American Readers.*

How useful the book will be depends upon the reader's knowledge of Dickens. Aficionados may be aware that a "cracksman" is not a repairer of plaster, and that a "hawker" MIGHT not know a hawk from a handsaw. It is easy to feel superior when leafing through a handbook for a general readership.

But how many cocky know-alls (like your editor) can identify the "John Bishop" is who is not to be confused with "smoking bishop," or that that "plummy" and "slam," when joined, have no relation to their usual meanings, but serve thus as a double password in *Oliver Twist"? And how about knowing exactly what a "check string" is. or what tree supplies medicinal "bark," or what "dog-shores" or "two for his heels" refers to?

Of course no Irishman need be told what "usquebaugh" is, or son of a construction worker what a "hod" serves for. Grammarians who deplore the way terminal "d's" are omitted from expresseions like "one is supposed to ..." may note that Dickens used the expression "edge-tool" (as did other Victorians?) to refer to an instrument with a useful edge. And so, fun to browse through...

Fred provides details: "Paperback, 458 pages. $10.00 plus $1.00 shipping. Illinois residents please add 65 cents tax. Order by mail or fax. Visa or MasterCard may be used. Hall Design, Inc., 250 Maple Avenue, Wilmette, IL 60091 (847-256-1323 fax 312-337-2721)

Patrick McCarthy



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