Alternative Dickens (Book collection; proposals 1 August 2014)

full name / name of organization: 
Christopher Pittard, University of Portsmouth, UK

Much has been written and said on the 'other' Dickens (from John Bowen's Other Dickens (2000) to the international conference organised by the University of Portsmouth, The Other Dickens (2012), to mark the bicentenary of Dickens' birth in the city, via The Other Dickens (2011), Lilian Nayder's biography of Catherine Hogarth), but what might it mean to talk of an alternative as opposed to an other Dickens?

The title of this edited collection, Alternative Dickens, therefore seeks to explore a double meaning. Firstly, to consider those aspects of Dickens that remain relatively un- or underexplored and move beyond the image of Dickens as canonical figure of English literature; to consider, for instance, his importance as journalist, actor, performer, and so on. Secondly, the collection seeks to consider Dickens as alternative, or the ways in which his works address the idea of the alternative. In a modern cultural moment where social and economic policy is naturalised through the commonsensical claim that "There is no alternative," (as stated by David Cameron in March 2013, referring back to Margaret Thatcher's infamous use of the phrase, in turn making use of the Victorian genealogy of such rhetoric in the work of Herbert Spencer) we invite essays that consider appropriations of Dickens to alternative political and cultural ends, as part of various countercultures, or which explore the extent to which his writings hinge on the idea of the alternative and of the counterfactual, exploring the 'as if' of Dickens' work.

These suggestions are indicative of potential topics, and not prescriptive: we invite scholars working in the fields of literature, film, history, cultural and media studies to consider any of those aspects of Dickens (both of his life and work) that lead to the construction of the image of an alternative Dickens, challenging popular perceptions of Dickens and exploring his cultural impact on new genres and technologies. We welcome proposals from both Victorian and NeoVictorian studies, exploring not only Dickens' altermatives in the nineteenth century but also the ways in which his works are mobilised in the service of postmodern alternatives. Does Dickens present us with viable modes of alterity, or is the postmodern use of his work one of the ways in which (as Mark Fisher argues in _Capitalist Realism_) the alternative has become the dominant style?

Please send a 500 word proposal and brief CV to Christopher Pittard ( by 1 August 2014. Please note that, subject to contracts, acceptance of proposals does not guarantee inclusion in the final book (although all contributors will be confirmed in good time). Essays of 5,000-7,000 words will be due by 2 February 2015.