7 - 11 June 2021

Senate House, University of London


This year the IES 5-day Nineteenth-Century Summer School runs from June-7-11, 2021. The chosen author is Charles Dickens, focusing on in-depth study of two of the later novels, Bleak House (1852) and Great Expectations (1861).

The school is open to anyone with an advanced interest in and curiosity about the nineteenth century, from MA and PhD students to independent scholars. This year the course is to be held in person in our belief that an interactive environment of discussion and debate between students and staff is particularly important at the present time. Every precaution will be taken to make the surroundings safe (please see below for more information).

The core teaching is by lecture and seminar on the two novels. Additionally there will be Student Forums for further discussion. ‘Researching Dickens’, ‘Dickens through his Journalism’, and a Round Table on ‘Decolonising Dickens’ are programmed. Also planned are A Tour of Dickens’s London, and a reading from the novels. You will have full membership of the University of London Senate House Library and a Library Tour is organised at the beginning of the course. Internationally distinguished scholars lecturing on the course include Daniel Tyler (Cambridge), Catherine Waters (Kent), Juliet John (City), Ushashi Dasgupta (Oxford), John Bowen (York), Josephine McDonagh (Chicago), Mark Turner (King’s London), Matthew Beaumont (UCL). Celebrated critic Steven Connor (Cambridge) will deliver the Hilda Hulme Lecture. 

The Director of the School is the internationally known Victorianist, Isobel Armstrong. Professor Armstrong is author of Victorian Glassworlds. Glass Culture and the Imagination (2008), Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics (Second Edition, 2019) and The Radical Aesthetic (2000). Her most recent publication is Novel Politics. Democratic Imaginations in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (2016).

Above all we welcome the opportunity for students and staff to work closely together - it’s a week-long conversation.

Course fees are £220. Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions we cannot provide food or refreshments on site. Students are encouraged to bring their own food, and there are also a large number and variety of nearby cafes. 


Monday 7 June

10.30-11.00 Registration

11.00-11.15 Welcome

11.15 -12.45 Bleak House, Dr Daniel Tyler (University of Cambridge)

12.45-1.45 Lunch

2.00-3.30 Bleak House, Dr Daniel Tyler

3.30-4.00 Break

4.00-4.45 Senate House Library Tour 

5.00 – 5.30 Dickens Reading 

Tuesday 8 June

9.45 -10.45 Researching Dickens, Professor Juliet John (City University)

10.45-11.15 Break

11.45-12.45  Dickens as Journalist, Dr Claire Wood (University of Leicester)

12.45-1.45 Lunch

2.00 -2.45 Independent Seminar (students prepare for Forum: Students will be asked to pair up and come to Forum with a single issue/problem they want to discuss plus an indicative passage.)

3.00-5.30 plus break - Sudent-led Forum, Chaired Isobel Armstrong, Issues in Bleak House

5.30 – Library time

Wednesday 9 June

9.00 – 11.00 Tour of Dickens's London, Professor Matthew Beaumont, University of London (This includes time getting back to Senate House)

11.00-11.30 Report-Back

11.30-12.30 Independent Seminar (Student discussion – objects in Bleak House/Great Expectations – thing theories)

12.30-1.30 Lunch

1.30- 3.30 Roundtable: Decolonising Dickens, Chair Dr Ushashi Dasgupta (University of Oxford), with Professor Josephine McDonagh (University of Chicago), Professor Mark Turner (University of London)

6.00 Hilda Hulme Lecture, Professor Steven Connor (Grace 2 Professor of English, University of Cambridge) - this lecture will be given online via Zoom

7.00 Q & A:  Summer school students will form a quorum for Professor Connor’s recorded talk

Thursday 10 June

12.00 – 1.00 Great Expectations, Professor Catherine Waters, University of Kent

1.00-2.00. Lunch

2.00- 4.00 Great Expectations Catherine Waters

4.00-4.30 Break

4.30 – 5.15 Independent Seminar (Students prepare for Forum ‘Issues in Great Expectations’ )

5.15 Library Time

Friday 11 June

10.00-11.30 Student-led Forum on Great Expectations: Issues in the novel, Chaired by Isobel Armstrong

12.00-1.00 Final Lecture: Professor John Bowen, University of York

1.00-2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.30 Open Session: students have been asked to find an object in either novel that they want to research over the week and talk about in this session.

3.30-3.45 Break

3.45-4.00 Closing Remarks /Goodbyes




We will be running this course in-person, with a small number of students. Our Health and Safety department have conducted Covid-19 risk assessments and we will all continue to monitor and evaluate the following procedures to ensure compliance with government safety guidelines. The measures in place will not compromise inclusivity and access requirements.

You can read in full the measures that we have put in place here.

The Institute of English Studies would particularly like to highlight that the following measures:

Cleaning and Sanitising

  • Increased cleaning and wide availability of sanitising products 

Social Distancing

  • We will be ensuring that social distancing is in place throughout the building

Event Cancellation

  • If we are forced to cancel this event, all those who have regsitered will receive a minimum of three weeks' notice, and will be given a full refund for the course