Bleak House is often said to be Dickens’s greatest novel; certainly it is one of his most compelling and enjoyable. We will spend four intense and rewarding weeks reading this masterpiece in its original installments, paying close attention to themes of loss, law, social class, secrecy, and inheritance. We will also explore Dickens’s astonishing use of language by way of close reading. Two critical lenses will guide us: the historical view and a psychological perspective. In addition to what I hope will be a lively discussion of the material, we will examine relevant materials from the period.
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Bleak House is one of the best novels ever written it begins with the line fog everywhere and I love that line because it's very London II fog creeps about in a Sherlock Holmes Ian way in London and also I think it describes one of the things about the novel that I love best and that is that fog moves between and among it goes through the upper classes the lower class is in the down-and-out parts of London to the very highest parts of London and that's really what the novel is about the circulation of people things disease law processes it's a wonderful novel because of its plot which is about law in part and it's wonderful because of the language the 19th century novel generally is the kind of space in which people their inner selves is explored deeply we don't do that in the modern novel anymore or not usually we like to talk about the postmodern novel but I'm really a Victorian myself I was the kind of child who sat in a chair and absorbed Jane Eyre and imagined myself to be Jane and even as a scholar now I still retain that part of me that wants to get in a chair on a rainy afternoon and just read and read and read and plotting makes that easy 19th century novels are filled with plot and people often say why so many coincidences why didn't she know that was her father why didn't she know who he was after her why wasn't she aware that she was pregnant I think the reason for coincidence in 19th century novels is that their point of view about the world the perspective the Victorians took and I have to say it's one that I share is that the world is a web a place where everything is connected where in fact you turn a corner and the crossing sweeper boy is your long-lost son or your mother is the servant girl or in fact the high lady did commit the crime I'm an associate professor of English here at the University of Arizona and I also have the great pleasure of working at the Honors College with Dean Patricia mccorkadale associate dean in the Honors College as well I've been teaching and studying Victorian novels since I was about nine years old and preparing for them long before that even before I learned to read I'm a close observer of people and that makes me a good reader of novels I loved the ins and outs and the trauma the difficulty the joy and the ecstasy of people's lives that you find in 19th century novels this is my first time teaching for the humanities seminar program I can't tell you how excited I am to do it I look forward to meeting each and every one of you and introducing you to the world of Dickens and also for those of you who have a lot of experience with Dickens providing background information context to make that experience as enjoyable as possible there's nothing more fun than teaching Dickens I can say nothing I look forward to meeting him you