Designed for middle and high school teachers, the “Charles Dickens: and ” seminar is a four-week NEH Summer Serminar that will take place at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in July 2016.
Following an interdisciplinary, cultural-studies approach to literary analysis, the seminar considers Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities in overlapping historical and cultural dimensions: in relation to historical events and contemporary concerns, literary predecessors and multigeneric imitators, Victorian social theory and modern critical trends. Via a range of disciplinary fields and methods, the seminar considers how Dickens—and literature more generally—can promote historically inflected cultural literacy while developing the ethical and political perspectives our students need in order to fully engage with contemporary social issues: education, labor reform, law, social revolution, and terrorism.
Though built around Dickens, the seminar’s critical methods are more broadly applicable, making the seminar useful for teaching literary texts in a wide range of humanities courses. In their final projects, participants will develop and share specific strategies for translating the seminar material into real-world classroom activities that prompt students to consider why Victorian literature remains relevant to contemporary culture and how humanistic fields of inquiry are necessary to understanding and responding to today’s most pressing social, political, and ethical challenges.
Department of English
University of South Florida