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‘In the Name of Children’: Children in Dickens’s Journalism and Novels

By Di Wu


This thesis employs a variety of theoretical approaches to examine the representation of children in the novels and journalism of Charles Dickens. Whereas previous studies of Dickensian children have concentrated on his fictional characters, I have expanded the parameters of the discussion to include his journalism, and his examination of children as readers. The discussion focuses on two novels, four significant articles in his weekly periodical Household Words, and A Child’s History of England, which was serialised in Household Words. \ud In recent years there have been considerable efforts made to investigate Dickens's journalism, but there has been little consideration either of his writings on children's welfare nor on his nursery writings intended for young readers which were published in his periodicals. Despite the fact that he wrote specific works for children to read, there has been no examination of his representation of child readers in his novels. \ud In analyzing three of Dickens's child readers I have drawn upon contemporary theories of reading. I have utilized a variety of modern psychological theories in my discussion of the novelist's understanding of child development. In the course of my discussion of individual texts I utilize theories of narratology, trauma theory, contemporary accounts of commodity fetishism and theories of masculinity as it impinges upon child development. \ud In my analysis of Dickens's journal articles and their relation to specific fictional characters and episodes, I emphasize that this is not simply a case of ‘factual’ journalism set against ‘fictional’ characters and plots, but rather that Dickens's creativity is manifested in both genres, and that to understand his comprehension of child psychology and child development, both are essential

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2011
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