Profs & Pints: How Outrage Drove DickensVisit Website
Profs and Pints Richmond presents: “How Outrage Drove Dickens,” a journey back to London past to encounter the downtrodden who haunt, A Christmas Carol, with Simon Joyce, professor of English and scholar of Victorian Studies at the College of William and Mary.
The holiday season inevitably causes thoughts to turn to Charles Dickens’ beloved and widely adapted story, A Christmas Carol. Typically, it’s presented as a tale of personal transformation leading to kindness toward the vulnerable and less fortunate. Obscured by this sentimental interpretation is how much "A Christmas Carol" was shaped by Dickens’s suffering in the past, anger at the present, and hope for a better future.
Come to Richmond’s Triple Crossing-Fulton taproom to gain a much richer understanding of, A Christmas Carol, with Professor Simon Joyce, a scholar of Dickens and the author of, The Victorians in the Rearview Mirror and Capital Offenses: Geographies of Class and Crime in Victorian London. He’ll help you gain a newfound appreciation of, A Christmas Carol, as originally a social commentary inspired by what Dickens had experienced and witnessed—much darker and more relevant work than the uplifting ghost story we know from its adaptations.
We’ll explore key elements of Dickens’ background as the oldest son in an oversized family with precarious finances, who was taken out of school and forced to work at the age of 12. You’ll see how social and economic conditions of the period, as well as its assumptions about early development, left no space between the child and the adult world.
We will examine how the prevailing laissez-faire economic views initially associated with Scrooge had already played a role in tragic events such as the Irish Famine, which commentators then and now have termed a genocide. We’ll focus on how Dickens depicts the problems that the characters of, A Christmas Carol, faced and what solutions might have been available to them beyond unrealistically hoping for a magical self-reformation of their oppressors like that experienced by Scrooge.
You’ll learn how Dickens responded to the world around him by becoming famous as an advocate for Victorian children, early education, and second chances. Knowing more about his agenda and what was in his heart, you’ll be able to revisit, A Christmas Carol, with a fresh perspective. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: A 1904 Fred Barnard illustration of Charles Dickens working in a factory at age 12.