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The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of Humanities

Research project: Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations: A Publishing and Reception History 1860-2012

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This project provides the fullest account to date of the writing, publishing and global adaptation, translation and reception histories of Great Expectations, one of Dickens's most famous novels, across 150 years.

The book combines approaches drawn from literary, adaptation and reception studies and book history in order to investigate the global impact of a novel that was indelibly shaped by the crucible of the Victorian periodical press in which it was created, but continues to have relevance to audiences in a wide variety of media even today.  It thus not only provides the fullest account yet available to students and scholars of the novel's multiple lives and their reception by audiences and critics over a century and a half (in addition to five major chapters there are four appendices listing contemporary reviews, plus key editions and every known adaptation and translation) but also sheds new light on a range of broader issues. These include the politics of celebrity, of translation and of censorship; the interactive histories of various branches of the global media industries; the ways in which national and other identities are represented (or resisted) through and by cultural artefacts, and the ways in which these representations and appropriations change over time.

The grant also funded a one-day teacher-training workshop on teaching Dickens as local history (Spring 2013), gave rise to several public lectures on Dickens's readers (throughout 2012-13), and underpinned a major charitable event, ‘The Great Expectations read-a-thon’, in January 2017. A team of 51 readers read the novel aloud in 13 different languages over a period of 24 hours, raising over £3000 for Southampton’s Centre for Cancer Immunology.

Great Expectations

Associated research themes

International Dickens Charity 24-hour Read-a-thon Event

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