The 40th Annual Dickens Universe featuring 
A Christmas Carol

The Dickens Universe is an annual gathering of scholars, teachers, and members of the general public who share a love of Dickens's writings and his era. In 2021, the Universe will feature A Christmas Carol. Because of public health concerns and in order to insure the safety of its participants, the 2021 Universe will, for the second consecutive year, take place online.

Perhaps the best known and most widely beloved of Dickens’s works, A Christmas Carol is the story of one man’s conversion from miserly misanthropy to a belief in the goodness of mankind and an acceptance of his place in the larger human community. Set against a background of social and economic distress during the “hungry ‘forties” in England, the Carol is at once an indictment of economic individualism and a powerful exploration of dreams, memory, and the importance of self-reflection. An early experiment in time-travel, the Carol has undergone countless adaptations and rewritings, many of which will be addressed during the week-long program of events.

  • Explore A Christmas Carol in small break-out groups and presentations by distinguished international faculty.
  • Join a community of avid Dickens readers and lovers of his work.
  • Learn more about the history of Christmas in Victorian England.
  • Discuss the relevance of A Christmas Carol through its modern reinterpretations.

Immerse yourself in the world of Charles Dickens. Learn about the author's life and work through lectures, group discussions, and Victorian events at the 40th annual Dickens Universe.



A note from Director John Jordan: The Dickens Project made the difficult decision to change our plans for the 2021 Dickens Universe. Because of uncertainties about whether it will be possible to hold an in-person Universe next July, the Executive Committee decided to convert the 2021 Universe entirely into a virtual, online event. Because we still want very much to do the Iola Leroy/David Copperfield conference as a live, in-person event, we decided to postpone it one more year, until the summer of 2022, by which time we anticipate we should be able to convene again on the Santa Cruz campus.

For the online conference next July, we decided to return to a familiar text by Dickens, one that should appeal to many members of the general public. The featured text for 2021 will A Christmas Carol