Jim Butcher explores the legacy of Jack Kerouac’s iconic novel On The Road 60 years after publication.
Dr Marios Kostas, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education and Care, explains why breaking away from traditional gender stereotype toys could be the best present you give your child this Christmas.
Ahead of the annual Dickensian Christmas Festival 2016, Professor Carolyn Oulton, Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW) discusses Dickens’s Kent roots.
David Copperfield stumbling footsore and hungry down the Dover Road to find his aunt Betsy Trotwood (it’s worth reminding the sat nav that there are now two parallel A-roads, imaginatively called the Old Dover Road and the New Dover Road respectively). Estella staring superciliously across the garden of Satis House in Rochester. And who could forget Scrooge wandering about in his nightshirt with the Ghost of Christmas Past, on a visit to what can only be rural Kent, ‘”Good Heaven!” said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, as he looked about him. “I was bred in this place. I was a boy here!”’?
Since the nineteenth century avid readers have been retracing the steps of Dickens’s fictional characters, perhaps like David Copperfield himself putting themselves in all the good parts and their own Mr Murdstones in all the bad ones. But it is worth remembering that if Dickens’s books are now considered ‘classics’, the Kent he wrote about was often raffish, even dangerous. His fascinated observation moves from the female lion tamer in Broadstairs ‘in something that shines very much, and is exceedingly scaley’ to the marshes where a terrified Pip first meets the criminal Magwitch.
In 1897 when Francis Burnand and Phil May of Punch published The Zig-Zag Guide Round and About the Bold and Beautiful Kentish Coast they introduced themselves as tour guides ‘in Dickensian phraseology as “T’otherest” and “T’other Guvnor”’ (from Dickens’s darkest novel Our Mutual Friend). Their guide enjoys a brief laugh at the misadventures of the Tuggses from Sketches by Boz, who ‘still come down to Ramsgate’ around sixty years after losing their money and their self-respect to sharpers. We may prefer to remember the triumphant rise to fame of David Copperfield. But we all know what happens to Pip when he becomes ‘ashamed of home’.
Find out more about the Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival 2016.
Dr Ken Fox, Principal Lecturer for School of Media, Art and Design, explains why the arts and creative industries are still so important for modern society.
Professor Carolyn Oulton, Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW) explores the novel, Lady Audley’s Secret, complementing the Centre’s events taking place as part of the Being Human festival.
Mary Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret would have intrigued, enthralled and horrified its first readers before they reached the first page, Victorian ladies after all were not supposed to have secrets.
First published in 1862, the same year that Coventry Patmore was revising his notorious Angel in the House, the novel chimes with Virginia Woolf’s later insistence that ‘Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer.’ But Braddon’s protagonist is an unlikely spokesperson for the rights of women. Frail, blonde and frivolous, Lucy Audley spends her days charming the tenants on her husband’s estate and her evenings playing the piano while making what the most tolerant reader must admit is fairly vacuous after-dinner conversation. What secrets could such a woman possibly be supposed to have? But when the tragically widowed George Talboys goes missing from a visit to Audley Court, his friend Robert Audley is determined to uncover the truth about his beautiful young aunt. In the process he forces the reader to rethink everything they think they know about Victorian femininity.
In 1862 Lucy Audley evades arrest for her crimes, but ICVWW Co-founder and expert on Victorian crime Professor Adrienne Gavin points out that in any case, in 1862 the jury would have been composed entirely of men ‘as women didn’t serve on British juries until 1920 after passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which also opened to women careers as lawyers, judges and magistrates. … there are several cases of attractive women of the respectable classes being found not guilty of crimes they clearly did commit.’
As part of the ICVWW Being Human 2016 programme, ICVWW’s Alyson Hunt has rifled through letters, questioned witnesses and produced a case file of the history Lady Audley hoped to forget. Now she will be put on trial with a mixed legal team and a jury of the public, giving you a chance to decide – is she guilty?
Dr Maria Diemling, Reader in Jewish-Christian Relations in the School of Humanities, looks at the influence of Leonard Cohen’s Jewish background on his final album.
Dr Susan Civale, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, explores Gothic fiction through the years as we approach the Halloween holiday.
Looking to avoid the Trick-or-Treaters this Hallowe’en so you can curl-up and read a book? Canterbury Christ Church University’s English Literature academics share their Top Five books to give you a fright this Halloween:
Dr Gavan Lennon, Lecturer in American Literature and Culture, reflects on Bob Dylan’s cultural and political importance.
The 88th Academy Awards took place in Hollywood on Sunday, with much talk in the lead-up to the ceremony about whether Leonardo DiCaprio would finally win Best Actor. But the Oscars made the headlines not just to announce this year’s nominees, but for the lack of diversity, with renowned actors Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and others, boycotting the event.