January 23, 2021

Lorentzen Takes Part in Global Virtual Dickens Conference and Roundtable

Eric Lorentzen, Associate Professor of English

Eric Lorentzen, Professor of English

Eric G. Lorentzen, Professor of English, was one of six international Dickens scholars who took part in a timely roundtable presentation and discussion on Dickens and Contagion. The roundtable was part of a virtual global conference which took place on June 9, which was the 150th anniversary of the Victorian writer’s death. #Dickens150 featured Dickens scholars from 10 different countries, and linked many participants around the world through synchronous time zone presentations that stretched from the London morning until evening in America. The specific roundtable on Dickens and Contagion, along with a few other selected parts of the conference, was filmed live, and will be forthcoming for global viewing on the #Dickens150 YouTube channel soon.

Lorentzen Gives a Talk on Victorian Serial Fiction at George Mason University

Eric Lorentzen, Associate Professor of English

Eric Lorentzen, Professor of English

Eric Lorentzen, Professor of English, was recently invited to George Mason University to speak about Victorian serial fiction, Dickens, and elements of popular culture that continue in that tradition today, such as film chronicles, soap operas, teen dramas, and the telenovela. He also discussed Dickens and Victorian literary traditions that survive beyond the realms of visual culture in the twenty-first century.

Lorentzen Presents Paper on Dickens and American Popular Culture

Eric Lorentzen, Associate Professor of English

Eric Lorentzen, Professor of English

Eric G. Lorentzen, Professor of English, contributed a paper, “21st-Century ‘American Notes’: Charles Dickens and Popular American Culture” at the annual Victorians Institute conference this November in Charleston, SC. This year’s conference theme was Transatlantic Influence, and Lorentzen’s talk first surveyed quickly the multitude of modern-day Christmas festivals that are grounded in Dickens’ text across this country, before he turned to visual media. He made brief connections with some of the cultural manifestations that obtain on screen, from the fairly obvious A Muppet Christmas Carol, to the far more esoteric connections to be made with seemingly non-holiday fare such as films like The GameGroundhog Day, and the more recent Disney blockbuster film, Christopher Robin. These connections led to a discussion of the ways in which Dickens’ somewhat Wordsworthian ideas of the crucial formative years of childhood, and the necessary project of philanthropy for social justice in A Christmas Carol, germinate into more fully-articulated and mature philosophies in latter novels like David Copperfield and Bleak House. The objective was to demonstrate how thoroughly (and extremely) these Dickensian archetypal tropes have permeated our own American zeitgeist in “texts” of popular culture that could not seem further away from the literary in general, or Charles Dickens specifically.  To that end, the final text Lorentzen took up for analysis was the once hugely “popular” teen soap/drama of the early 2000s, The O.C., a series which depended upon, admittedly in the most unlikely of ways, multiple Dickensian archetypes for its thematic (and didactic?!?) backbone.  Amidst the oversexed bikini-clad angst of Southern California, the Victorian dude of serial fiction abides, and our postmodern cultural studies theoretical methodologies can help us discover why the recognition of such an arcane connection remains crucially important, in terms of both individual and collective agency.


Lorentzen Presents on Wordsworth and Dickens at MLA Conference

Eric Lorentzen, Associate Professor of English

Eric Lorentzen, Associate Professor of English

Eric Lorentzen, Associate Professor of English, gave the talk “‘Spots of Time’: Wordsworthian Spirits and Dickensian Hauntings” for the special Dickens Society panel at the 50th Annual Northeastern Modern Language Association Conference in Washington, D.C. Lorentzen examined this Romantic influence in Dickens’ work as a part of the panel “Dickens and the Influences of the Past.” In his paper, Lorentzen traced the ways in which Dickens’ incorporation of the Wordsworthian philosophies of time, memory, and continuity transformed over the length of the Victorian novelist’s career.  He detailed the many echoes of “We Are Seven” (Dickens’ favorite Wordsworth poem) in the early novels, and the darker cooptation of the poet’s ideas in moments of traumatic memory in the latter novels, as Dickens transformed Wordsworth from the poet of Nature, to a much more haunting figure that informs some of the more deeply psychological “spots of time” in Victorian fiction.



Lorentzen Publishes Article on Dickens and Education

Associate Professor of English Eric G. Lorentzen published an article in Dickens Studies Annual on Dickens and education entitled “This Schoolroom is a Nation: Subverting the Catechistic Method in Dickens.”

The catechistic method was a popular form of the rote memorization pedagogy which dominated Victorian schools, and sought to keep at-risk learners content with their marginalized social positions.  In fact, this educational praxis became so popular that its tactics were embraced by many figures desiring social power beyond the schoolroom, a point upon which Dickens dwells at considerable length throughout his texts.  This essay surveys a few varieties of catechistic primers that were designed for these disciplinary functions, and examines some of the more infamous ways catechism was utilized in early nineteenth-century British literature.

Subsequently, the essay scrutinizes the almost overwhelming number of instances of the catechistic method in Dickens’s novels to demonstrate both his critique of this question and answer power dynamic, and the ways in which his characters deploy, evade, co-opt, and subvert the ideological directives of catechism, as they strive for their own liberation and agency.  By recognizing the evolution of Dickens’s critique of catechistic method, both in and beyond the arena of the Victorian classroom, Lorentzen argues that we can much better appreciate the extent of the novelist’s cautionary tales about the ways in which education functioned as a normalizing force of social control.

Lorentzen Gives Talk at Victorians Institute Conference

Eric Lorentzen, Associate Professor of English, gave a talk in Raleigh, North Carolina, at this year’s Victorians Institute Conference, which was thematized around ideas of Victorian STEM/STEAM.  His paper on Dickens was titled “Hard Times, Critical Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies: STEM as the New Utilitarianism.”


Lorentzen Gives Talk at Victorians Institute

Eric Lorentzen, associate professor of English, presented a talk at this year’s Victorians Institute conference, held in Charlotte, Oct. 23-25.  The theme of the 43rd annual conference was “The Mysteries at Our Own Doors,” and his talk was entitled “‘The Narrative of the Tombstone’: Teaching English 251S — British Victorian Detective and Sensation Novel.”  In this talk, he was able to share, with Victorian colleagues from across the country, the pedagogical philosophies and praxes that he has employed in his course for the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication, as well as an argument about the goals and objectives of this course and genre.  He also connected the talk to a summer course here at the University of Mary Washington in which he and his students pursue the study of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Lorentzen Gives Talk, Chairs Panel

Eric Lorentzen, associate professor of English, gave a pedagogical talk entitled “The Victorian Psychological Novel and Memory: Wordsworthian Echoes, Freudian Anticipations” at the Northeastern Modern Language Association Conference in Harrisburg, Pa. on April 4. He also chaired the panel “Literary Genealogies: British Romantic Poetry and Victorian Novels.”

Lorentzen Presents at Converse College

Eric Lorentzen, associate professor of English, gave a talk entitled “Teaching Dickens and Cultural Studies in the 21st Century” at Converse College on Nov. 15, as part of a conference on scholarship, pedagogy, and the intersections of popular culture.

Eric Lorentzen Gives Scholarly Talk at Conference

Lorentzen, Eric04Eric Lorentzen, associate professor of English, gave a scholarly talk at this year’s annual Northeastern Modern Language Association conference in Boston, for a panel called “Dickens at 201.”  The talk was titled “Cultural Studies, Critical Pedagogy, and Connecting with ‘Boz’ in the 21st Century.”