Generational Dickens

Featuring Glenna Matthews.

June 21, 2019

Glenna Matthews fell in love with Dickens as a child when she and her parents began reading his novels together. One of the first they read was The Pickwick Papers, which still stands as one of her favorite Dickens novels. According to Glenna, her mother’s favorite was David Copperfield. After the passing of her mother, Glenna has often revisited the novel in efforts to feel closer to her.

Glenna was made aware of the Dickens Project in 2012 upon reading a reference to The New Yorker’s 2011 article “Summer Vacation with Dickens.” She immediately requested to be added to the registration waitlist for that summer’s Universe on Bleak House. “When I was notified that I had gotten off the waitlist, it felt like I had just won the lottery,” recalls Glenna.

“From the second day in, I knew that I wanted the Dickens Project in my will,” Glenna remarks on naming the Dickens Project in her estate plans. She especially supports the Project’s partnership with the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative, which further solidified her decision to support the Dickens Project.

The Dickens Universe, in the words of Glenna, is so wonderful because everyone is so familiar with the novel and has such great things to say. She enjoys the excitement of being in a room with so many brilliant people who “aren’t just professors, but people from all walks of life."

A self-described “semi-retired” professor of American history at Oklahoma State University, Glenna has also served as a visiting professor at UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, and Stanford. “When you are in the academy, you spend a lot of time talking about theory,” said Glenna; “the Dickens Universe allows pure intellectual play, and not a lot of spaces provide that opportunity.”