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Apr 15 2011

Literature Lovers Explore the Works of Charles Dickens

New York, N.Y. (April 15, 2011) – New technologies are advancing understanding of Charles Dickens across a global audience, a group of scholars told more than 100 literature lovers at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) on the eve of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

The experts explored the impact of emerging technologies like Google books, YouTube, and iPads on interpretations of Dickens. 

“These technologies are giving us new references, connections, and even new works that we did not have before,” said NYIT President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., at Friday’s pre-bicentennial celebration of Dickens at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway.

Through discussions and clips of film adaptations, panelists explored the many ways of analyzing Dickens’ works. They considered portrayals of poverty amid the slums of Victorian London, the role of psychology on economics, and the effects of the illustrations in Dickens' novels, among other areas.

Panelist Natalie McKnight, professor and chair of humanities at the College of General Studies at Boston University, highlighted two enduring characteristics of Dickens’ works – the ability to affect emotions through vivid descriptions and transport readers all over the world to unfamiliar places.

The audience represented different generations of Dickens’ enthusiasts, from 16-year-old Jordan Cerbone to 90-year-old Rose Roberts, both members of The Dickens Fellowship of New York.

“Dickens will never go out of style,” said Roberts. “As long as human beings are around and have emotions, then Dickens will fit the bill.”

Panelist Jonathan Grossman, associate professor of English at University of California, Los Angeles, discussed the relationship between the communications and transport revolutions of Dickens’ time. He said these revolutions represent the beginning of the live networking of people, which remains just as important today.

The conference ended with the one-man show of Dickens expert Michael Slater, which featured humorous and dramatic readings from Seven Dials, Private Theatres, On Duty with Inspector Field, and more.

The conference was moderated by President Guiliano, who serves as the co-editor of the Dickens Studies Annual (DSA).

Other panelists included: 

  • Duane DeVries, associate professor emeritus at Polytechnic Institute of New York University. 
  • Jonathan Grossman, associate professor of English at University of California, Los Angeles. 
  • Michael Hollington, visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge and former professor of English at the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail and the University of New South Wales in Australia until his retirement. 
  • Shari Hodges Holt, instructional assistant professor of English at the University of Mississippi. 
  • Natalie McKnight, professor and chair of humanities at the College of General Studies at Boston University.
  • Trey Philpotts, professor and chair of the English Department at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
  • Michael Slater, emeritus professor of Victorian literature at Birkbeck College at the University of London.
  • Nathalie Vanfasse, professor of English literature at the Université d'Aix-Marseille in France.

The conference was sponsored by NYIT, Dickens Studies Annual, AMS Press, and The CUNY Graduate Center.

About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in more than 90 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has more than 15,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, 85,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit


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