Caroline Reitz (John Jay College), Good Vibrations: Elizabeth Gaskell in Dickens’s House
This is a Faculty Membership talk. Gaskell was there at the beginning. The first installment of her “Lizzie Leigh” immediately followed Dickens’s “Preliminary Word,” which introduced his journal Household Words on March 30, 1850. Dickens’s journals, which he edited for the final 20 years of his life, represent his greatest thought experiment, not just about the spirit of the age, but about form (literary, social, institutional) itself. The generic variety and collaborative nature of Gaskell’s frequent contributions to the journal in its first years and her understanding of the relationship between social structure and literary form were essential to Dickens’s conception of nation and narrative.