A Day of Writing with the Dickens Project




The Dickens Project is the premier center in the United States for the study of Charles Dickens and nineteenth-century studies. Founded in 1981 and based at UC Santa Cruz, the Project is an international consortium made up of over 40 universities and colleges, including universities in Britain, Canada, Australia, and Israel.

As part of our mission to promote the study of Victorian texts, we strive to assist young scholars in examining the cultural relevance of nineteenth-century literature to the twenty-first-century world. The Dickens Day of Writing will focus on “Night Walks,” a Dickens essay that examines the homeless endemic in Victorian England, to cultivate greater awareness about social justice issues like homelessness and housing instability in Santa Cruz County.

The Dickens Day of Writing is both a writing retreat and a writing competition designed to support junior and senior high school students in their futures as college students and professionals. Through reflecting on a short essay by Charles Dickens, the students will reinforce skills learned in the classroom, such as critical reading, analytical reasoning, argumentative writing, creative production, and cultural history to prepare them for life beyond high school.

Learning Objectives:

  • to strengthen literary analysis skills
  • to develop strong critical thinking skills
  • to prepare students for timed writing tests
  • to foster social engagement between students and the Santa Cruz community

Benefits and support for teachers and schools:

  • honoraria to participating teachers
  • funding for substitute teachers and travel assistance the day of the event
  • an annotated edition of "Night Walks" by Charles Dickens and lesson plans
  • a visiting guest lecture by a Dickens Project scholar
  • writing support for students
  • free registration to attend the Dickens Universe

Benefits and support for students:

  • exposure to the campus and culture of a major research university to support college preparation work
  • the publication of their Day of Writing Essay in a printed volume
  • individual mentorships with faculty and students at the university level
  • the chance for extra timed-writing test preparation
  • writing support to develop strong writing skills
  • the chance to win a cash prizes
  • the chance to receive a scholarship to attend the Dickens Universe and a corresponding Department of
    Literature course for 5 UC credits (Restricted to students who are 18 years old by July 15, 2023)
  • free registration to attend the Dickens Universe (Restricted to students who are 18 years old by July 15, 2023)

The authors of winning essays will receive cash prizes: 1st place: $1,000; 2nd place: $750; 3rd place: $500. Any winners who are 18 years old by July 15 will also be eligible for scholarships to enroll in a 5-credit, intensive week-long college course at this summer’s Dickens Universe conference, taking place from July 23-29 on the UCSC campus.


Support for this event comes from Julie Minnis, The Friends of the Dickens Project, The Jordan-Stern Presidential Chair for Dickens and Nineteenth-Century Studies, Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Monterey Peninsula Foundation (host of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Pure Insurance Championship Impacting the First Tee), UCSC’s Department of Literature, Department of Education, The Humanities Institute, University Library, Sentinel Printers, and David A. Perdue and The Charles Dickens Page, The Charles Dickens Museum, CATE: The Association of Teachers of English Central Council, and the many Dickens Project High School and Teacher Scholarship donors.