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Queer Dickens: New study provides alternative reading of literary texts

Lecturer in Victorian Studies, Dr Holly Furneaux.

Queer Dickens: New study provides alternative reading of literary texts

Research to be presented at University of Leicester on February 3 rejects stereotypes of prudish Victorians and brings a new twist to the tale of the much loved novelist.

Issued on 28 January 2010

A new study by a University of Leicester researcher puts to rest false notions of the straight-laced Victorians and places Dickens at the heart of nineteenth century understandings of homosexual desire.

Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities offers an original take on the major works of Charles Dickens. The study has been carried out by Dr Holly Furneaux, from the University of Leicester’s School of English.

The research will be presented to the public on Wednesday 3 February at 6pm as part of the event: Victorian Lives, Loves and Limelight, an evening of talks and discussion to celebrate new work in the Victorian Studies Centre at the University of Leicester. The event takes place in Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 2, University of Leicester

In her new work, Dr Furneaux combines queer theory with a historical approach to the works of Dickens, highlighting the presence of homosexual desire and unconventional family structures in his novels. From Mr Brownlow in Oliver Twist to Joe Gargery in Great Expectations, unconventional family relations are everywhere in Dickens.

Dr Furneaux said Dickens’ work was punctuated by “enthusiastic pursuits and portrayals of male intimacy” and that his work looked beyond the parameters of the conventional family unit. She said Queer Dickens aims to change the conservative popular view of Dickens, and show that Dickens was fascinated by the diversity of gender, the unconventional family and the multiplicity of sexual desire.

Dr Furneaux commented:

“I love Dickens’s work and I hope that Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities will enhance readers’ interest in and enjoyment of his novels. I also hope that the book will have an impact on the assumptions we bring to Dickens and to the Victorians. People often think of him as a conventional, ‘hearth and home’ author, but his work insistently reveals his interest in sexuality and non-biological families.”

Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities is published by Oxford University Press.

Notes for Editors:

For further information, please contact Dr Holly Furneaux via email at hf35@le.ac.uk or contact the University of Leicester Press Office on 0116 252 3335.

• The research will be discussed at Victorian Lives, Loves and Limelight, an evening of talks and discussion to celebrate new work in the Victorian Studies Centre at the University of Leicester. The evening begins at 6pm on Wednesday 3rd February 2010 in Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 2, University of Leicester.

Dr Holly Furneaux is Lecturer in Victorian Studies at the University of Leicester. Queer Dickens, her first monograph, draws on her interests in nineteenth-century literature, histories of sexuality, and Victorian cultures of feeling. She has published articles in Nineteenth Century Literature, Philological Quarterly, and The Dickensian on these areas, and has co-edited a special edition of Critical Survey on the topic of 'Dickens and Sex'. She was recently principal organiser of the British Association for Victorian Studies annual conference on the theme of 'Victorian Feeling: Touch, Bodies, Emotions', and is a regular organiser of the venerable Dickensian tradition of 'Dickens Day'.

Title: Queer Dickens - Erotics, Families, Masculinities

Author: Holly Furneaux

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Published: 10 December 2009

Price: £55.00 (Hardback)

ISBN-10: 0199566097

ISBN-13: 978-0199566099

Follow this link to order a copy from the publisher’s website.

Ruth Shepherd

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