Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Dickens and Melodrama

Next month marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens. I had plans of visiting the author's grave for the a wreath-laying ceremony in Westminster Abbey. Well, COVID-19 changed all that.

However, Dickens scholars Emily Bell and Lydia Craig have put together a virtual conference for June 9th so that the anniversary will not go completely unmarked. Malcolm Andrews, editor of The Dickensian, will be participating, as will Gina Dalfonzo, who runs the Dickensblog.

I'll also be giving a three-minute lightning talk titled "Reimagining Melodrama in The Old Curiosity Shop." I'll be (quickly) examining how Dickens used and transformed the conventions of stage melodrama in his 1840-41 serialized novel about the wanderings of Little Nell.

Specifically, I will be looking at Dickens's transformations of some of the devices used by his friend Douglas Jerrold, who penned such successful melodramas as Black-Eyed Susan and The Rent-Day. My panel is scheduled for 6:15pm London time, which will be 1:15pm in New York.

If you're interested in Zooming in, check out the conference website. There is a registration fee, but all proceeds go to the Charles Dickens Museum in London.