Information for all Universe Participants

The "purple man" canvas has been a familiar presence at the Dickens Universe for over three decades.

Registration | Reading List | Scholars + Others | Weather + Clothing
Accommodations | Phone + Internet | Other Items



We will once again be using our secure online registration through This will allow you to pay conveniently and securely via credit card, and we hope it will streamline our confirmation process. You can also register and select another method of payment (check or Purchase Order). If you prefer the old-fashioned way, you can print out the Registration Form and send it to us with your payment.


Reading List

You will need to read the novel before you attend the conference to get the most out of the event. We recommend the most recent Penguin Classics edition so that everyone can be "on the same page," but if you already have an edition you enjoy, please bring that. 

David Copperfield. Written by Charles Dickens, edited by Jeremy Tambling.
Penguin Classics, 2004. ISBN: 9780140439441

Iola Leroy: or, Shadows Uplifted. Written by Frances Harper, edited by Koritha Mitchell.
Broadview Press, 2018. ISBN: 9781554813858

Scholars and Others

You do not need to be a scholar to attend. The morning and evening lectures are given by our consortium member faculty and sometimes invited guest faculty. These speakers are sharing important scholarly research, while the afternoon talks are generally lighter and cover more general topics of the Victorian era. We try to offer activities for everyone, but please be aware that certain programs are restricted to our member faculty and grads as a privilege of membership. If you are a scholar from a non-member school, you are encouraged to attend the 19th-Century Seminar and share your research with colleagues. We also offer a workshop for high school teachers as an opportunity to share teaching materials and strategies related to several 19th-Century novels. High school students are welcome to attend the daily undergraduate seminar.


Weather and Clothing

Santa Cruz has a very mild climate, although it can sometimes be rather hot during the Universe week (temps in the 80's, low humidity). A perfect day starts out foggy and cool, turns sunny and warm about mid-morning, and cools down again in the evening. Fashion mavens will layer, layer, layer. Rain in July and August is an anomaly, although we often have some drizzle at night. Definitely bring a sweater, jacket, or sweatshirt (or buy one of ours!). 

Many folks used to warmer nighttime temperatures are surprised at how cold it feels at night here. The temperatures usually fall into the 50's at night, but can feel colder due to the marine influence. Even if it's 100 degrees when you're packing to leave, do not forget your jacket!

The atmosphere at the Universe and in Santa Cruz, is very casual and comfortable. Do bring shoes that are comfortable for walking. UCSC is full of trails both paved and not, and there are few flat areas.

We host a Victorian Dance on Friday night and you're welcome to dress in costume, or just show up in light, comfortable clothes. It can be very warm during the Dance.

Participants can use the pool and Wellness Center on the East side of campus for a small additional daily charge and there are tennis courts on both the West and East sides.



Important note: There are limited ground floor or disability-accessible apartments or rooms available. If you require one of these, please email the office BEFORE you register. If you have already registered but did not indicate a need, please email the office immediately.

You will be housed in shared apartments at Cowell and Stevenson Colleges. The configuration of apartments varies but we try to accommodate your requests. Bedrooms have Ethernet hookups (bring your own cable or rent one from us) and the campus also has wi-fi available to guests. (Wi-fi in the apartments can be spotty.) Each apartment has a common living room and kitchen area and a shared bathroom. We will set out coffee in a central location each morning at 8:00 AM, but caffeine junkies should bring a small coffee maker.

This is a college, so rooms are small and efficient. Each person is issued two towels and one washcloth. We also can provide some bathmats upon request. Your bed will have sheets, a pillow, and two blankets. There is a limited supply of extra blankets and we have extra hangers. Apartments are heated but there is no air-conditioning on campus.

If you're driving and want to spend the week in relative luxury, bring your favorite pillow, an extra blanket (or down comforter), lots of hangers, and nice thick towels. Trude Hoffacker always brings a fitted sheet (twin extra long). She has been coming since the beginning, so she knows a thing or two.

The apartments do not have TVs, radios, or alarm clocks. We rent out hot pots for the week, but we have a limited supply. There are no kitchen supplies in your apartment.

We endeavor to fulfill your housing requests to the extent that we can, so please tell us how we can help. The apartment buildings do not have elevators but staff can help you with your luggage on arrival and departure. If you have other needs, such as a ground floor apartment or grab bars in the bathroom, please see the Important Note above. SMOKING IS PROHIBITED EVERYWHERE ON CAMPUS, INDOORS AND OUT.

Anyone with mobility or breathing concerns should call the Project office at (831) 459-2103. There is a LOT of walking involved and there are hills. The dining hall, several classrooms, and the lecture hall are located on the campus of Cowell and Stevenson Colleges. (Please check back before the conference for additional details.)


Phone and Internet

If you bring a laptop, it should either have an Ethernet port, to take advantage of the Ethernet connection in the apartment, or you may refer to the welcome packet in your apartment for the guest wi-fi login instructions. Bring your own cables. Wi-fi and cell phone reception at Cowell and Stevenson Colleges may be spotty. We also have a Mac computer in our office, hooked up to a printer that is available for checking email and printing boarding passes. A small photocopier is also available by prior arrangement with staff.

The Conference Office has discontinued regular phone service in the apartments.

You may give your family the Dickens Project office number (831) 459-2103, or the East Conference Office number. The Project and the East Conference Office will take messages and post them in a central place. The Dickens Project no longer has a fax machine.


Other Items

Did I mention comfortable shoes and clothes? Did I mention the walking? Did I mention your jacket?

The campus can be very dark at night, so bring a small flashlight. An alarm clock could be handy for those not used to getting up for 7:30 am breakfast.

By all means, bring a camera. It's beautiful here and you're bound to see interesting things and make many new friends.

Definitely bring your already-read Penguin Classics edition of the novels.