Dickens Universe offers unforgettable intellectual retreat

Literature professor John Jordan, director of the Dickens Project, and project coordinator JoAnna Rottke (Photo by Scott Rappaport)

The Dickens Universe combines elements of a research symposium, arts festival, book club, and summer camp all rolled into one big, unforgettable week of intellectual celebration.

Each year in mid-summer, it brings together scholars, graduate students, high school teachers, and members of the general public for a week of study on the UCSC campus.

The annual gathering is the heart of the renowned Dickens Project--now celebrating its 28th year as the premier center for Dickens studies in the world. A scholarly consortium headquartered at UCSC, it consists of faculty and graduate students from all UC campuses, as well as from 16 other major American and international universities.

The Dickens Universe is regularly attended by more than 200 participants of different ages and backgrounds. It provides a relaxed and supportive summer environment in which to pursue serious intellectual inquiry.

"This year we're focusing on two novels rather than the usual one--Hard Times by Dickens and Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell, a contemporary of Dickens," noted John Jordan, director of the Dickens Project and professor of literature at UCSC.

"Both are industrial novels about the north of England during the 19th century, which was the center of the Industrial Revolution," he added. "Both works deal with factory conditions, working class life, and the struggle for recognition and autonomy among workers."

"These novels seem particularly appropriate this year in light of the economic period we're currently passing through," Jordan observed. "The title Hard Times is quite apt."

The 2008 Dickens Universe runs from Sunday July 27 to Saturday August 2. At the end of the week, there is also an additional symposium focusing on collaboration--including the use of electronic media and the web--in the development of scholarship about Victorian Literature and culture.

For more information about the 2008 Dickens Universe, contact project coordinator JoAnna Rottke at (831) 459-2103 or e-mail dpj@ucsc.edu.