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About this Lecture
In this module, we think about ghosts in A Christmas Carol and in Victorian literature and society more generally, focusing in particular on: (i) the extent to which Dickens rendered ghost stories a mainstream of Victorian fiction; (ii) Scrooge's initial refusal to believe in the supernatural; (iii) Dickens' own belief in ghosts; (iv) Dickens' use of the word "spectre" to describe the characters of his novels, and the extent to which he felt 'haunted' by them; (v) the tendency for Victorian newspapers to indulge in 'true stories' about ghosts, and Dickens' personal interest in "the newest thing in ghosts"; (vi) the popularity of spiritualism in mid-Victorian society, and Dickens' hostility to those who actually believed in ghosts; and (vii) the idea of the author of fiction as someone who is able to make us believe something that we know not to be true.
In this course, Professor John Mullan (University College, London) explores Charles Dickens' 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol. In the first module, we think about the idea storytelling in the novel, focusing in particular on the 'character' of the narrator and the idea that A Christmas Carol was a designed as a novel to be read in a single sitting. After that, in the second module, we think about ghosts in A Christmas Carol and in Victorian literature and society more generally, before turning in the third module to the use of comedy in the novel. In the fourth module, we focus on the character of Ebenezer Scrooge himself, before turning in the fifth and final module to consider the idea of 'fancy' in the novel.
Professor John Mullan holds the Lord Northcliffe Chair of Modern English Literature at University College, London. He is a specialist in eighteenth-century literature, currently writing the 1709-1784 volume of the Oxford English Literary History. Most recently he is the author of How Novels Work (2006), Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature (2008) and What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved (2012). A broadcaster and journalist as well as an academic, he writes a weekly column on contemporary fiction for the Guardian.
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Cite this Lecture
Mullan, J. (2021, March 08). Dickens: A Christmas Carol - Ghosts [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/dickens-a-christmas-carol-mullan/ghosts
Mullan, J. "Dickens: A Christmas Carol – Ghosts." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 08 Mar 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/dickens-a-christmas-carol-mullan/ghosts