Juliet John will be presenting her paper, ‘Dickens, Mass Culture and the Machine’ at 5.15pm on Tuesday, 15 March 2011. The talk will take place in the Cardiff Humanities Building, Room 2.48.
That the idea of Dickens and the adjective ‘Dickensian’ continue to have a cultural resonance which extends beyond the book-buying public almost two centuries after Dickens’s birth is testimony to his sense of himself as a mass cultural artist.
This paper contends that Dickens’s popularity is unique, different even from that of Shakespeare because, writing in ‘the first age of mass culture’, Dickens was instinctively aware of the changed context of art, or of the need for popular art to find its place in an age of mechanical reproduction. It examines Dickens’s attitudes to Culture and the machine, looking forward to the importance of machines to Dickens’s afterlives, and back to the real and symbolic importance of machines in his own day. (more…)