Dickens and the Condition of England - EN876

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 30 (15) PROF C Waters







This module studies four works by Dickens and a selection of his journalism in relation to the 'Condition of England' question – a phrase coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1839 to describe the rapidly changing political, moral and economic state of the nation in the nineteenth century. It considers the narrative and structural strategies developed by Dickens to address such issues as class division; privilege and meritocracy; the experience of the metropolis; sanitary reform; industrialisation and work; and domestic ideology.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300


Autumn term in 2019/20

Method of assessment

Position paper (1,000 words) – 10%
Major Written Assignment (4,000 words) – 90%

Indicative reading

Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually

Bleak House (Penguin, OUP or Norton)
Charles Dickens: Selected Journalism, ed. David Pascoe (Penguin) or see Dickens Journals Online at: http://www.djo.org.uk
Hard Times (Broadview or Norton edition)
Little Dorrit (OUP, Everyman or Penguin)
A Christmas Carol (OUP or Penguin or Broadview)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a command of a significant body of knowledge about selected works of Charles Dickens and about the formal and substantive relationships between fiction an his journalism;

2. Demonstrate an understanding of specific social, cultural and political issues related to the 'Condition-of-England' debate in the early and mid-Victorian period as they are dealt with in the fiction and journalism of Dickens;

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the narrative and structural strategies developed by Dickens to address condition-of-England issues;

4. Demonstrate a developing understanding of, and capacity to employ, relevant critical and theoretical approaches to the study of Victorian fiction and journalism.

5. Demonstrate an awareness of the historical development of the discipline of English Literature and its methods

6. Demonstrate an understanding of the ongoing relevance of literary study for the social and cultural development of the modern world

7. Demonstrate advanced skills in the analysis, research and evaluation of literary texts, using relevant primary and secondary resources, and will have demonstrated competence in critically evaluating such research tools

8. Make extensive use of written communication skills in presenting well-reasoned and well expressed arguments and observations in essays


This module cannot be condoned or compensated for MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture students

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