Bleak House and the Journalism of Charles Dickens (1805)

Dates: Six Fridays: January 12, 19, 26, February 9, 23, March 9, 16*, 1 to 3 p.m.

*Class on this date is optional – more details will be provided in class!

$180 (10% off for members)

In the preface to Bleak House, Dickens claims he “purposely dwelt upon the romantic side of familiar things.” A dark masterpiece of social ills and stagnant systems, Charles Dickens’s Bleak House is also a novel about nurturing and friendship, the makeshift family, scientific advancement, and the intersections of class and calling at mid-century. Written and serialized in 20 monthly installments between March 1852 and December 1853, Bleak House alternates between the modes of mystery and suspense which later came to define the detective genre, and the more familiar conventions of the bildungsroman which drew readers to David Copperfield. A dual-narrative structure which employs the first-person (the exemplary young orphan and caregiver Esther) and the disembodied, omniscient voice of a legal court and newspaper, makes Bleak House a labyrinthine but multi-faceted read, foretelling the innovations of later urban novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Theodore Dreiser, and James Joyce.

To enrich the historical context of the novel, we will read contemporary reviews and criticism provided by the Norton edition, and articles on current events and reforms, from the Great Exhibition of 1851 to the Penny Post to reports on London sanitation, as they appeared in the pages of Household Words, the popular journal Dickens conducted at the time.

Bleak House, Charles Dickens
Selected Journalism, edited by David Pascoe

Reading Schedule: Read first 100 pages (through chapter 7, The Ghost's Walk), for the first class. Reading list for articles from Selected Journalism will be distributed during the first meeting, but will include (for those who wish to read ahead: "A Walk in a Workhouse," "Detective Police," "A Paper-Mill"; "On Duty with Inspector Field," and "A Plated Article." All appear in Pascoe’s Selected Journalism. We will read 1-2 short pieces (under 10 pages) per week.

Nicole Miller’s prize-winning essays have appeared recently in New Letters and Arts & Letters magazines. Her fiction has been published twice in The Mays, edited by Jill Paton Walsh and Sebastian Faulks. She received an M.Phil. in Victorian Literature from Lincoln College, Oxford; a PhD in English at University College, London; and an MFA at Emerson College, Boston, where she held the Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. At The Oxford English Dictionary, she has served as a scholarly reader for British Dialects since 2002. She edits faculty manuscripts in Harvard’s English Department and teaches nineteenth and twentieth century British literature at Politics and Prose in Washington D.C.

REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.

SKU: CharlesDickens
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Bleak House (Oxford World's Classics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780199536313
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - July 1st, 2008

Selected Journalism 1850-1870: 1850-1870 (Penguin Classics) Cover Image
By Charles Dickens, David Pascoe (Introduction by), David Pascoe (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780140435801
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Books - February 1st, 1998