Dickens Day 2010

English Event

Event details


Oct 16, 2010
from 09:00 AM to 05:45 PM


Senate House (south block), University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

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"Mr Popular Sentiment": Dickens and Feeling

Saturday 16 October 2010

Senate House (south block), University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.
Beveridge Hall, Room G22–26 and Macmillan Hall

Whilst Trollope sought to dismiss Dickens as "Mr Popular Sentiment", Robert Louis Stevenson embraced the emotional effect of Dickens's fiction, writing of the Christmas books that he had cried his eyes out, "but oh, dear God, they are good – and I feel so good after them." From the first readers who wept convulsively at the death of Little Nell, to Oscar Wilde who, famously, could not read it without laughing, Dickens's work has elicited strong and divided emotional responses. The term sentimental - a word frequently associated with Dickens -can be used to denigrate his writing, but a wealth of recent thinking is challenging the negative connotations surrounding this categorisation. Often criticised as dishonest, manipulative and "cheap" emotion, sentimentality is being reconfigured as the legitimate, rather than bastard, offspring of the eighteenth-century philosophy of sensibility and as a literary manoeuvre capable of reforming both the reader and reading practices.

Taking Trollope's parodic description as its point of departure, this one-day conference, jointly run by Birkbeck, Leicester University and the Dickens Fellowship, will explore the complex relationships between Dickens's works and the diverse feelings they both represent and engender.

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