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Approaches to Teaching Dickens' David Copperfield

Editor(s): Richard J. Dunn

Pages: x & 162 pp.
Published: 1984
ISBN: 9780873524841 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780873524834 (hardcover)

"This book should be a boon for a variety of undergraduate teachers. Recommended."

The novels of Charles Dickens have attracted a wide and enthusiastic readership since they first appeared in the mid-nineteenth century, and in recent decades their social, biographical, and psychological elements have brought them increasing academic attention. "David Copperfield," writes Richard J. Dunn, "serves not only to introduce Dickens or the novel but also to demonstrate the relations of fiction and autobiography and the roles of myth, archetype, and fantasy in fiction."

This volume, like others in the MLA's Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, is divided into two parts. The first part, "Materials," surveys editions of David Copperfield, background studies on the Victorian milieu, introductions to Dickens, critical and textual commentaries, and other Dickens works. In the second part, "Approaches," sixteen essays explore the many ways teachers present the novel in courses of varied subject emphasis and student experience. Contributors explain the critical assumptions that underlie their choice of David Copperfield and describe their teaching strategies. They show, for example, how they develop a sophisticated response to this universally popular novel; tailor the presentation for particular student levels; play the devil's advocate by introducing common criticisms of the work; and teach the work as a classic of world literature, as a central document of Victorian fiction, or as a combination of fiction and autobiography.

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Dickens' David Copperfield

Richard J. Dunn


Required and Recommended Student Reading
Background on the Victorian Period
Introductions to Dickens
Biographical Studies
Critical and Textual Studies
Other Dickens Works

Aids to Teaching

The Instructor's Library
Reference Works
Critical Commentary



General Discussions

David Copperfield: Different Readers, Different Approaches
Daniel Sheridan

Copperfield on Trial: Meeting the Opposition
Susan J. Hanna

Dickens' Problem Child
Thomas M. Leitch

David Copperfield in a Children's Literature Course
Beverly Lyon Clark

An Introduction to Fiction: David Copperfield in the Genre Course
Margaret Scanlan

The Chords of Memory: Teaching David Copperfield in the Context of World Literature
Willis Konick

Fathers and Sons: David Copperfield in a Course on Victorian Autobiographical Prose
Gerhard Joseph

David Copperfield: An Introduction to a Dickens Course
Stanley Friedman

Specific Approaches

David Copperfield's "Written Memory"
Jean Ferguson Carr

"I have taken with fear and trembling to authorship": David Copperfield in the Composition Classroom
Melissa Sue Kort

David Copperfield: Parallel Reading for Undergraduates
J. Gill Holland

Multum in Parvo: The Ninth Chapter of David Copperfield
George J. Worth

Testing by Installments the "Undisciplined Heart" of David Copperfield's Reader
Michael Lund

Teaching David Copperfield: Language, Psychoanalysis, and Feminism
Dianne F. Sadoff

Making Sense of David Copperfield
Susan R. Horton

David Copperfield and Shared Reader Response
Michael Steig


David Copperfield in Installments

Works Cited


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