Guitarist, hiker, writer, Dickens fan

Peter Kosenko, who had Dickens Project founder John Jordan as a professor, has included the project in his estate

September 01, 2019

By J.D. Hillard 

dombey-universeIn 2016, Peter Kosenko was reading Dombey and Son in preparation for Dickens Universe when he had a moment of déjà vu: he had read the same passage while sitting on a couch in the Stevenson College Library in 1977. At the time, he was completing his English B.A., and he was reading the book for a class led by Dickens Project founder Professor John Jordan.

Kosenko (Stevenson ‘77, English) discovered Dickens with Oliver Twist at age 10. He became a fan when he read Great Expectations in his teens.

His first visit to the Dickens Universe was more than three decades ago. Working toward his Ph.D. at UC Irvine, he wrote a paper on Little Dorrit that he presented during the Dickens Universe graduate student conference in 1984. He has attended regularly since 2009.

“I came for the discussions and ended up staying for the people,” Kosenko says. “I really love the ability to discuss literature with other readers and for the conversation to spill over to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

He also appreciates the effort the conference makes to prepare graduate students for their professions.

“Dickens Universe was the only opportunity of that sort that I had as a student,” he says.

He plays classical and jazz guitar. He’s also an avid hiker, exploring the Santa Monica, San Gabriel, and Santa Susanna mountains as well as the Sierras. Semi-retired, he has written reviews for art magazines and edited books for the University of California Press. He also worked for a software company for about 15 years editing software manuals, managing websites, and programming.

He included the Dickens Project in his estate a few years ago when he heard it faced financial challenges.

“It didn’t take much thought,” he says. “It is a great example of how the study of literature ought to be allowed to spread into the community.”