UWE Bristol academics celebrate the Dickens legacy

Issue date: 25 June 2012

The timeless appeal of the writer Charles Dickens is being celebrated during his bicentenary year at Dickens Day 2012, a sell out free public engagement event organised by The UWE Long Nineteenth Century Network to be held on Saturday 30 June at the Arnolfini, Bristol.

Public engagement in Dickens's time was just as important to the writer who was keen to interact with his audiences in person, giving frequent public readings in the South West. When giving a public reading in Bristol in 1858, Dickens instructed his audience to 'make themselves as much as possible like a group of friends, listening to a tale told by a winter fire, and forget all ceremony and forms in the manner of their coming together.'

During the course of the day, English Literature staff from the University and local enthusiasts will consider how, and why, Dickens speaks to a twenty-first century audience.

Event Organiser, Dr Gill Ballinger, Senior Lecturer in English and Drama at UWE Bristol said, “Dickens is still relevant now because so many of the issues he deals with in his fiction strike a chord with contemporary readers. The fiction exposes social injustice, exploring the problems generated by an industrial, capitalist society, from children failed by their parents and the state to financial scandals. The novels are written with great energy and wit, making the work entertaining and thought-provoking. And Dickens is closely associated with the south west: he visited on many occasions, giving public readings in Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Plymouth and other local towns, connecting with audiences across the region.”

Speakers on the day include UWE Bristol academics Dr Gill Ballinger, Dr Mike Davis and Professor Bill Greenslade who will deliver sessions on Dickens and the South West, Dickens and education, Dickens and language and Dickens and the public readings.

The event will end with a performance by a UWE Drama student from Dickens's most dramatic public reading, Sikes and Nancy, one he performed so powerfully in the Victoria Rooms, Clifton, Bristol that it caused 'a contagion of fainting'.

For more information on Dickens 2012 events visit: http://www.dickens2012.org/


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