New grant to support the programming of the Dickens Project in the coming year

The Dickens Project, a multi-campus research unit based at UC Santa Cruz focused on the study of 19th-century English-speaking literature and culture, recently received a $ 50,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) in support of its 2022 programs.

“We are delighted to receive this NEH grant, which allows us to continue our community outreach work despite the financial uncertainties of the pandemic,” said Renée Fox, Dickens and PI project co-director on the grant. “Our programming in 2022 is focused on issues of race and social justice in the 19th century, and today the NEH’s support for these programs is therefore particularly important to us. “

The NEH grant will be used to support a busy 2022 year for the Dickens Project. Next summer will see the return of The Dickens Universe, a weeklong cultural event that combines aspects of a college conference, festival, book club and summer camp, all focused on a pair of 19th century novels: 1850 work David Copperfield, and Frances EW Harper’s 1892 Iola Leroy, or the shadows raised, one of the first novels published by an African-American writer.

In the past, the Dickensian Universe has focused on a Dickensian novel or a pair of British authored books, but in 2022 the Universe is expanding its reach by combining a British novel with an Afro-American novel. American. The combination of these two novels will help participants broaden their understanding of 19th century culture and invite conversations about race both in 19th century fiction and in our time. The immersive experience of the Universe, which takes place on the UC Santa Cruz campus, will include discussions of the books, performances, film screenings, and more.

Additionally, Project Dickens will resume two high school programs in 2022, both of which have been curtailed by the ongoing pandemic. One program, Litlabs, is a college preparation program for students in the Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) program at Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles. LitLabs are interdisciplinary teaching modules that introduce NAI seniors to 19th century novels through creative projects that re-imagine the worlds of these novels in terms of 21st century life in LA. At the end of the school year, The Dickens Project brings together four students and two NAI instructors at the Dickens Universe to present their projects and enjoy the event.

The other program, A Dickens Day of Writing, combines lesson plans and an essay writing event for Santa Cruz County high schools to help students reflect on social issues in their communities through literature. from the 19th century. In collaboration with teachers in Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, the program uses Dickens’ essay “Night Walks” to spark discussion on issues of homelessness and poverty in Santa Cruz. Ongoing discussions and writing assignments will conclude with a writing day that brings together participating students and the Dickens Project community for a day of essay writing and mentoring. The winning essayists and their teachers will receive scholarships for the Dickensian Universe 2022.

“Over its 41-year history, The Dickens Project has always been devoted to both academic research and community engagement,” said John Jordan, Director of The Dickens Project. “The programs we have organized for 2022 will introduce many new readers to the world of 19th century literature, and we are excited about how the project is developing. “

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