Eric G. Lorentzen, professor of English, recently gave a talk entitled “Interdisciplinary English as Social Justice: Dickens, Disney, and Popular Culture,” at the Virginia Humanities Conference. The talk was based on a new class Lorentzen taught in fall semester of 2022, in which the goal was to mark, as an intellectual community, the tremendous on-going, and often not readily perceived, influence that Dickens’ work has on a multiplicity of genres in the 21st century.
The course included materials as diverse as:
- 20th- and 21st-century literary texts, such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, John Irving’s The Cider House Rules, and the Harry Potter books.
- films/shows like Ridley Road, It’s a Wonderful Life, About Time, The Game, The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Last Tree, and Disney’s Christopher Robin.
- literary societies, reading groups, social clubs, and online serial novel projects.
- Dickens festivals, holiday fairs, walking tours, and other elements of literary tourism that continue to celebrate Dickens’ works, life, and association with Christmas.
- museum exhibits/journalism that attempt to demonstrate the ongoing importance of Dickens’ texts for the problems of poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and lack of social justice today.