MLA Sessions

Since 2006, the Dickens Project has co-organized conference sessions with the Dickens Society, a MLA Affiliated Organization. Additional co-organizers and co-sponsors are included below.



  • 245. Reimagining History with(in) the Victorian Period

    Friday, January 5, 2024 - 12:00-1:15 PM


    • Renée Fox, University of California, Santa Cruz


    • Ryan Fong, Kalamazoo College: "Indigenous Pasts Are Not Prologue: Decentering Empire in Victorian Studies"
    • Renée Fox, University of California, Santa Cruz: "Irish Revivals before the Literary Revival"
    • Sukanya Banerjee, University of California, Berkeley: "Eventality, Narrative, and the Transimperial"
  • 282. Victorian Gaslighting

    Friday, January 5 - 1:45-3:00 PM

    The term gaslighting, which has reentered the popular lexicon with a vengeance in recent years, originated in a play that was written in 1938, but its plot is pivotally set in Victorian London. Panelists trace the genealogy of gaslighting back to its Victorian roots, offering and discussing a range of examples of domestic and institutional gaslighting in Victorian culture.


    • Nora Gilbert, University of North Texas


    • Diana Bellonby, Vanderbilt University
    • Shalyn Claggett, Mississippi State University
    • Grace Franklin, University of Southern California
    • Nora Gilbert, University of North Texas
    • Tara MacDonald, University of Idaho
    • Doreen Thierauf, North Carolina Wesleyan University
    • Elizabeth Coggin Womack, Pennsylvania State University, Brandywine

  • 2023

  • 70. "Ecology, Empire, and the Victorian Geographical Imaginary”

    Thursday, January 5, 2023 – 3:30-4:45 PM


    • Renée Fox, University of California, Santa Cruz


    • Deanna Kreisel, University of Mississippi: "Unsettling Ecotopia"
    • Kathleen Frederickson, University of California, Davis: "Sex, Race, and Empire in an Era of Climate Change"
    • Kyle McAuley, Seton Hall University: "H. Rider Haggard's White Australia"
    • Devin Garofalo, University of North Texas: "Aurora Leigh's Cosmology of Whiteness"

  • 2022

  • 296V. "Debunking Imperial Myths and Dreaming Decolonization in the Long Nineteeth Century"

    Friday, January 7, 2022 – 1:45-3:00 PM

    Panelists explore how the study of British empire in the long nineteenth century can be transformed by critical approaches that center the perspectives of Indigenous and colonized subjects, confronting Romantic and Victorian studies’ participation in systems of white supremacy and settler colonialism and articulating new methods for redressing historical patterns of exclusion, erasure, and marginalization. 

    • Ryan Fong, Kalamazoo College
    • Renée Fox, University of California, Santa Cruz
    • Kyle McAuley, Seton Hall University
    • Emma Mincks, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
    • Lindsey O'Neil, University of Maryland, College Park
    • Oishani Sengupta, University of Rochester
    • Arun Sood, University of Plymouth


  • 2021

  • 183. "Sexual Violence, the Victorians, and #MeToo"

    Thursday, January 7, 2021 – 4:00-5:15 PM

    Victorian studies is increasingly embracing presentist approaches to reading nineteenth-century fiction. Panelists explore how the #MeToo movement has transformed critical approaches to teaching and researching sexual violence in Victorian literature and culture, examining how new ways of reading Victorian literature can help us better understand—and develop strategies of resistance to—the cultures of sexual violence that persist today. 

    • Renée Fox, University of California, Santa Cruz
    • Helena Michie, Rice University
    • Nora Gilbert, University of North Texas, Denton
    • Patrick R. O'Malley, Georgetown University
    • Amanda Paxton, Trent University, Durham
    • Erin Spampinato, Graduate Center, City University of New York
    • Doreen Thierauf, North Carolina Wesleyan College
    • Anna Torvaldsen, McGill University


  • 2020

  • 369. "Public Victorians"

    Friday, January 10, 2020 – 3:30-4:45 PM

    Panelists explore how public forms of scholarship oriented to our own time and place can broaden the impact of Victorian scholarship. While Victorianists engage in newly revitalized critical conversations, enrollments in English departments across the country continue to drop, particularly in courses on periods before 1900. We aim to develop ideas for public-facing projects to create greater public understanding of the value of Victorian scholarship.


    • Renée Fox, University of California, Santa Cruz
    • Elizabeth Meadows, Vanderbilt University


    • Jacqueline Barrios, University of California, Los Angeles
    • Sheila Cordner, Boston University
    • Bridget Draxler, St. Olaf College
    • Abigail Droge, University of California, Santa Barbara
    • Christie Harner, Dartmouth College
    • Teresa Mangum, University of Iowa
    • Danielle Spratt, California State University, Northridge


  • 2019

  • 747. "Critical Race Theory and New Directions for Victorian Studies"

    Sunday, January 6, 2019 – 1:45-3:00 PM

    Panelists explore a central methodological and citational exclusion of Victorian studies: critical race theory has been underengaged by scholars in the field, to the detriment of our scholarship, our teaching, and the communities we create. We interrogate the intellectual frameworks that have dominated the field, past and present, and suggest productive reframings through the integration of critical race theory.


    • Amy R. Wong, Dominican University of California
    • Zarena Aslami, Michigan State University
    • Manu Chander, Rutgers University, Newark
    • Ronjaunee Chatterjee, Concordia University
    • Alicia Christoff, Amherst College
    • Anjuli Raza Kolb, Williams College
    • Tricia A. Lootens, University of Georgia
    • Jane Hu, University of California, Berkeley


  • 2018

  • 136. "Ephemeral Dickens"

    Thursday, January 4, 2018 – 5:15-6:30 PM

    Ephemera is disposable paper material such as bus tickets and bookmarks; in the nineteenth-century, people’s lives were first saturated with such quotidian material. Charles Dickens, whose characters sold cigarette cards, coats and canes, provides an apt literary focal point for re-theorizing ephemera to include a broader array of material culture. This panel reads Dickens and ephemera against each other to sharpen conventional understandings of both topics.


    • Susan Zieger, University of California, Riverside


    • Janice Carlisle and Elizabeth Frengel, Yale University: "Disposable Dickens? Exploring Dickens in the Ephemeral Archive"
    • Lillian Nayder, Bates College: "Dickensian Jottings"
    • Rebecca N. Mitchell, University of Birmingham: "Recurrent Ephemerality and the Dolly Varden Dress"


  • 2016

  • 132. "'The Dickens Jukebox': Music at Work and Play in Narrative Form"

    Thursday, January 7, 2016 -- 5:15-6:30 PM


    • Carolyn S. Williams, Rutgers University, New Brunswick


    • Jonathan Farina, Seton Hall University: "Dickens’s Music: Harmony, Texture, and Form in Nicholas Nickleby"
    • Carolyn S. Williams: "Musical Surface and Depth in Little Dorrit"
    • Tricia A. Lootens, University of Georgia: "Doing and Undoing the Orphan: John Parry’s ‘Peasant Boy,’ Bleak House, and Our Mutual Friend"


  • 511. "Dickens and Disability"

    Saturday, January 9, 2016 -- 10:15-11:30 AM


    • Talia C. Schaffer, Graduate Center, City University of New York


    • Natalie Prizel, Yale University: "The Working Artist and the Literary Man: Disabled Self-Fashioning in Our Mutual Friend"
    • Mallory Cohn, Indiana University, Bloomington: "Grotesque Intelligence: Precocity as Disability in Dickens"
    • Rachel Herzl-Betz, University of Wisconsin, Madison: "The Magnification of Jenny Wren"


  • 2015

  • 92. "Visual Dickens"

    Thursday, January 8, 2015 -- 3:30-4:45 PM


    • John O. Jordan, University of California, Santa Cruz


    • Beth Seltzer, Temple University, Philadelphia: "The Lantern, the Wooer, and the Wrapper: Ambiguous Images and Argued Text in The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
    • Susan Cook, Southern New Hampshire University: "Reproducible Dickens"
    • Suzy Anger, University of British Columbia, Vancouver: "Blind Minds, Mental Specters: Dickens, Consciousness, and the Senses"


  • 330. "Dickens: Surface, Depth, Close, Distant"

    Friday, January 9, 2015 -- 1:45-3:00 PM


    • Priti Joshi, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma


    • Matthew Price, Penn State University, University Park: "Closing the Distance: Little Dorrit, Maps, and Minor Spaces"
    • Beth Seltzer, Temple University, Philadelphia: "The Tale Half Told: Indeterminacy, Interactivity, and the Many Ends of Edwin Drood"
    • Peter J. Capuano, University of Nebraska, Lincoln: "Computational Contexts and Dickensian Depths"


  • 621. "Narratological Dickens"

    Saturday, January 10, 2015 -- 5:15-6:30 PM
    Co-organized by the International Society for the Study of Narrative


    • Susan S. Lanser, Brandeis University


    • Monika Fludernik, University of Freiburg: "Dickensian Metaphor as a Narratological Issue"
    • John O. Jordan, University of California, Santa Cruz: "'Let Us Have No Meandering': Temporality in David Copperfield"
    • Kathleen Pacious, National University of Ireland, Galway: "The Friendly Move of Hypothetical Narration in Our Mutual Friend"


  • 2014

  • 538. "Dickens and the Environment"

    Saturday, January 11, 2014 -- 12:00 noon-1:15 PM


    • Michael Rectenwald, New York University


    • Ella Mershon, University of California, Berkeley: "Dwelling: Bleak House and the Ecology of Decomposition"
    • Sophie Christman-Lavin, Stony Brook University, State Univ. of New York: "Ecologically Hard Times"
    • Troy Boone, University of Pittsburgh: "Early Dickens and Ecocriticism: The Social Novelist and the Nonhuman"


  • 705. "Stupid Dickens"

    Sunday, January 12, 2014 -- 8:30-9:45 AM


    • D. Rae Greiner, Indiana University, Bloomington


    • Daniel Wright, University of Toronto: "Dickens's Stupid Politics"
    • Jonathan Farina, Seton Hall University: "Mad Libs and Stupid Critics"
    • Carolyn S. Williams, Rutgers University, New Brunswick: "History, Stupidity, Stupefaction: Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty"


  • 2013

  • 636. "The Dickens Theater"

    Saturday, January 5, 2013 -- 5:15-6:30 PM


    • David S. Kurnick, Rutgers University, New Brunswick


    • Elsie Browning Michie, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge: "Performing Antislavery in Nicholas Nickleby"
    • Alexandra Neel, Loyola Marymount University: "Dickens's Theater of the Dead"
    • Lauren Byler, California State University, Northridge "Dickens's Little Women; or, Cute as the Dickens"


  • 787. "Dicken's Poetry, Poetry's Dickens"

    Sunday, January 6, 2013 -- 1:45-3:00 PM


    • Elsie Browning Michie, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge


    • Monica Smith Hart, West Texas A&M University: "Echo Chambers: Romantic Poetry and Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop"
    • Margaret Loose, University of California, San Diego: "Dickens and the Poetry of Fact"
    • Tricia A. Lootens, University of Georgia: "'Never You Let Yourself Down to Talk Poetry': Dickens's Dissolution of Victorian Verse"


  • 2012

  • 447. "Dickensian Things"

    Saturday, January 7, 2012 -- 10:15-11:30 AM


    • Claire Elizabeth Jarvis, Stanford University


    • Carolyn Lesjak, Simon Fraser University: "Dickensian Characters: Giving New Meaning to Type(s)"
    • Suzanne Daly, University of Massachusetts, Amherst: "Words That Wound: Documentary Violence in Bleak House"
    • Elaine Auyoung, Harvard University: "The Architecture of Things in Bleak House"


  • 688. "Dickensian Beginnings"

    Sunday, January 8, 2012 -- 10:15-11:30 AM


    • Kate E. Brown, University at Buffalo, State University of New York


    • Anna Clark, Columbia University: "The First Ray of Light: Introductions and Interpolations in The Pickwick Papers"
    • Karen Chase, University of Virginia: "Beginning with the Middle and the Muddle"
    • Rebecca Rainof, Catholic University of America: "Delayed Beginnings and Arrested Developments: How to Jump-Start a Dickens Novel"
    • Rachel Bowser, Georgia Gwinnett College: "Futurity and Beginnings: The Problem of Plot in Great Expectations"


  • 2011

  • 119. "Adapting Dickens"

  • 332. "Dickens and Psychoanalysis"

    Co-organized by the Literature and Psychology group
  • 622. "Dickens, History, and Historiography"

  • 2009

  • 559. "Dickens and Play"

  • 747. "Victorian Rituals"

  • 2008

  • 40. "Victorian Vulgarity"

  • 272. "Dickens and Science"

  • 2007

  • 277. "The Functions of Dickens Criticism at the Present Time: Dickens Material(ized)"

  • 773. "The Functions of Dickens Criticism at the Present Time: Dickens's Afterlife"

  • 2006

  • 600. "Dickens and Affect"

  • 758. "Victorian Futures: Beyond Nostalgia"