Mid-Atlantic Popular &
American Culture Association

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This House Isn’t So Bleak: Why Dickens’s Bleak House Is Still Important Today

Anthony Michael D'Angelico
Presentation type: 

While the COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately ended millions of lives, it also ended the way instructors think about education. The pandemic transformed teaching and learning alike; once, students gathered and learned collectively, until the pandemic shifted this idea into tiny little screens, where students did more sleeping than learning. After being online for three years, students are struggling with caring about coursework. There is a solution to this, though, which this paper proposes. Instructors must engage students in different, more modern perspectives. This paper proposes shifting English classes to bring in pop culture presences to further engage students, using Charles Dickens’s Bleak House as a case study to argue that literature is vastly important to contemporary readers, for Dickens sets a precedent for modern works that is still prevalent today. Dickens captures the human condition in his writings by use of stock characters that round out his narrative, building a world so comfortable and lived in that readers are simply immersed. Charles Dickens’s work is still important because his novels teach readers lessons, analyze the human condition, and inspire popular contemporary works. It is easy to dismiss Dickens as a boring classic writer if that is how his work is taught; it is much harder to once his characters are understood as deeply crafted people with motivations that are not unlike the motivations and arcs of famous popular culture characters. While analyzing Dickens’s writing, this paper will also draw in connections between Dickens and Stephen King, the hero of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow, and figures like Batman. Once Dickens is brought into contemporary times, his lessons that he teaches in his novels and the importance of his work will become more interesting to college students.


About the presenter

Anthony Michael D'Angelico

Anthony D’Angelico is a second year MA student of English at Seton Hall University. D’Angelico also teaches Core English 1 at Seton Hall University and is a graduate assistant for the Seton Hall Magazine.

Session information

Pop Culture Charged and Changed Meanings in and Beyond the Classroom

This panel will explain the need for pop culture added to the syllabus. It will also discuss phrases that define aspects of pop culture and the changes that occur with names and phrases over time.

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