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Dickens: Hard Times

3. Fact vs. Fancy

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About this Lecture


In this module, we continue our discussion of utilitarianism by considering two terms that are used frequently in the novel—fact and fancy. In particular, we think about Mr. Gradgrind’s approved definition of a horse (“quadruped, graminivorous, forty teeth”), his insistence that taste is no different to fact, and the disaster that is his daughter Louisa’s marriage to Mr. Bounderby.


In this course, Dr Alfie Bown (University of Manchester) explores Dickens’ 1854 novel, Hard Times. As we move through the course, we think about the philosophy of Utilitarianism (thinking in particular about Mr. Gradgrind), about class (thinking in particular about Mr. Bounderby), about regulation and surveillance in Coketown (thinking in particular about Mrs. Sparsit) and, finally, about comedy (thinking in particular about the Circus).


Alfie Bown is Lecturer in Digital Media Culture and Technology at Royal Holloway, University of London. His principle research interests are in psychoanalysis, digital media, critical theory and videogames, though he has also published in nineteenth-century studies, film studies and medieval studies. He is author of The Playstation Dreamworld (2017) and In the Event of Laughter (2018) among other things. His most recent book is an edited collection of essays entitled Post-Memes: Seizing the Memes of Production (2019).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Bown, A. (2018, August 15). Dickens: Hard Times - Fact vs. Fancy [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bown, A. "Dickens: Hard Times – Fact vs. Fancy." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,