Here Comes Dickens! with Rhoda Flaxman
Thursday afternoons on Zoom from 4-5:30 p.m.
April 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20.
Course limited to 16 participants
“Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.” With this evocative, visually-oriented sentence we plunge into the Dickens novel many consider his greatest. Perhaps you recall reading Great Expectations as a child. But it is not just for children, because it contains depths of psychoanalytic, gender, and cultural revelations for us to explore together. We’ll ask such questions as: why are there two endings to the novel? Why did the Victorians write so many novels about orphans? How does Dickens keep the plot open all the way through? What are the issues around class? Who is Miss Havisham and why is her wedding cake moldy? Who is the mysterious convict who terrifies Pip and generates the mystery at the center of the work? How does Dickens use various plot structures to keep the story going (bildungsroman, fairy tale, the marriage plot, realism, etc.)?
Where appropriate along the way we’ll also observe some social satire concerning Regency and some history of mid-century England in the heyday of the Victorian novel. And thanks to Zoom, we will enrich our reading with images from Victorian art and book illustration.
The course will progress by a combination of mini-lectures and discussion focused by
questions sent in advance of each class meeting. It is limited to 16 participants to
accommodate a single Zoom screen.
For ease of reference everyone should buy the following edition: Great Expectations by
Charles Dickens (Case studies in Contemporary Criticism), Bedford/St. Martin Press.