Approaches to Teaching Dickens’ David Copperfield

  • Editor: Richard J. Dunn
  • Pages: x & 162 pp.
  • Published: 1984
  • ISBN: 9780873524834 (Cloth)
  • ISBN: 9780873524841 (Paperback)
Approaches to Teaching Dickens' David Copperfield Cover

“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.