Cover of the Summer 1929 Edition of The Dickensian.

'Reading as if for life’: Dickens, The Dickensian, and the Common Reader

A lecture by Miriam Bailin, 2020 Junior Comp Examiner

Please join us for the 2020 Junior Comprehensive Exam Lecture, hosted by the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities. In “’Reading as if for life’: Dickens, The Dickensian, and the Common Reader” Miriam Bailin addresses the perennial debate about professional vs. amateur readers with specific reference to the reputation of Charles Dickens.  Embraced from the first by a vast public readership and disparaged by critics and authors who wished to elevate the status of the novel as a literary form, Dickens’s fame was sustained during the first decades of the 20th century by common readers and the organized enthusiasm of the Dickens Fellowship. Bailin will focus on the Fellowship and its publication, The Dickensian: A Magazine for the Lovers of Dickens, now in its 115th year of existence, as an example of an enduring and influential form of reading community that combines the personal, local, and communal experience of reading with the functions we consider to be the province of the university.