Dickens Project receives NEH grant for public outreach to schoolteachers

NEH logo
Student reading book by Dickens
(Photos by Carolyn Lagattuta)
Emeritus professor of literature John Jordan--director of the Dickens Project at UC Santa
Emeritus professor of literature John Jordan, director of the Dickens Project at UC Santa Cruz.
The Dickens Project at UC Santa Cruz has received a $119,417 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a four-week NEH Summer Seminar that will be held on campus in 2016.

Designed for middle and high school teachers, the “Charles Dickens: Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities” seminar will critically explore two of the famed author’s most frequently taught novels.

These books are often discussed in the classroom because they are deeply engaged with political and social issues that are as relevant today as they were for Dickens in his own time--focusing on such topics as education, labor reform, law, social revolution, and terrorism.

The seminar will take up these issues as it explores ways of framing for students many of the social questions and political dynamics of the modern world.

The seminar will be directed by Marty Gould, professor of English at the University of South Florida. Emeritus professor of literature John Jordan--director of the Dickens Project at UC Santa Cruz—will serve as the principal investigator.

Guests will include professors Sharon Weltman of Louisiana State University and Kate Flint of the University of Southern California, plus Jon Michael Varese, Director of Digital Initiatives for the Dickens Project.

“This grant gives evidence once again of the Dickens Project's position as the premier center in this country for the study and teaching of Dickens's novels,” said Jordan.

“In addition, it shows the Project's continued commitment to bringing Dickens's work before a wide audience, including younger readers, and to showing the relevance of Victorian literature to important contemporary issues and concerns.”

Tapping on a range of disciplinary fields and methods, the seminar will consider how Dickens—and literature more generally—can promote cultural literacy while developing the ethical and political perspectives students need in order to fully engage with contemporary social issues.

Though built around Dickens, the seminar’s methods are more broadly applicable, making the seminar useful for teaching literary texts in a wide range of humanities courses.

“The seminar director, Dr. Marty Gould, is a master teacher whose success in leading previous NEH summer seminars is widely known and admired among Dickens scholars,” Jordan noted.

In their final projects, the participants will develop and share specific strategies for translating the seminar material into real-world classroom activities. The aim is to help students discover how humanistic fields of inquiry are necessary for understanding and responding to today’s most pressing social, political, and ethical challenges.