TORCH Book at Lunchtime webinar on Charles Dickens and the Properties of Fiction: The Lodger World by Dr Ushashi Dasgupta.
Book at Lunchtime is a series of bite-sized book discussions held weekly during term-time, with commentators from a range of disciplines. The events are free to attend and open to all.
When Dickens was nineteen years old, he wrote a poem for Maria Beadnell, the young woman he wished to marry. The poem imagined Maria as a welcoming landlady offering lodgings to let. Almost forty years later, Dickens died, leaving his final novel unfinished - in its last scene, another landlady sets breakfast down for her enigmatic lodger. These kinds of characters are everywhere in Dickens's writing. Charles Dickens and the Properties of Fiction: The Lodger World explores the significance of tenancy in his fiction.
In nineteenth century Britain the vast majority of people rented, rather than owned, their homes. Instead of keeping to themselves, they shared space - renting, lodging, taking lodgers in, or simply living side-by-side in a crowded modern city. Charles Dickens explored both the chaos and the unexpected harmony to be found in rented spaces, the loneliness and sociability, the interactions between cohabitants, the complex gender dynamics at play, and the relationship between space and money. In Charles Dickens and the Properties of Fiction, Dr Ushashi Dasgupta demonstrates that a cosy, secluded home life was beyond the reach of most Victorian Londoners, and considers Dickens's nuanced conception of domesticity.
Dr Ushashi Dasgupta is the The Jonathan and Julia Aisbitt Fellow and Tutor in English at Pembroke College, Oxford. Her research centres around nineteenth-century fiction, specialising in the relationship between literature, space and architecture, in particular, the ways in which fiction articulates urban and domestic experience. Charles Dickens and the Properties of Fiction is her first book, and her next project asks what it means to feel at home in a book, exploring the practice of re-reading, from the nineteenth century to the present.
Professor Sophia Psarra is Professor of Architecture and Spatial Design at University College London. Her research is transdisciplinary, spanning architecture and urbanism, spatial morphology, history, and cultural studies, and has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, NSF-USA and the Onassis Foundation. Professor Psarra is also a prize-winning practicing architect, and her work has resulted in creative installations and design projects as well as a number of publications, which include The Venice Variations and Architecture and Narrative.
Professor Jeremy Tambling is a writer and critic who has been engaged with education and teaching at all levels and across the range, including holding the Chair of Comparative Literature in Hong Kong, and of Literature in Manchester. As a literary scholar, he uses critical and cultural theory, especially the culture of cities, and particularly that of London, as a way of approaching writing on many forms and periods of literature, as well as film and opera. Professor Tambling’s many publications include, most recently, Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, and the Dance of Death.