Project summary (4,000 character limit) Despite the fact that Dickens and Shakespeare are Britain's most prominent global literary exports, the role of the heritage sector in facilitating Dickens's rise to international iconhood has received very little critical attention. Though there is a great deal of work available on the role of the film and television industries in making Dickens the most adapted author for the screen of all time, Juliet John remains one of the few academics to have published work on his relationship to the concept of heritage as it plays out on screen and in other contexts, for example, museums, literary tourism and heritage organisations. The off-screen heritage sector is fast becoming one of the main growth areas in Victorian Studies today, with conferences like 'Placing the Author: Literary Tourism in the Long Nineteenth Century' (Elizabeth Gaskell House, Manchester, 2015), bringing academics working on English Literature, public history, geohumanities and cultural memory, together with academics and practitioners from the museum and tourist Industries. There remains, however, no monograph on Dickens's relation to the heritage sector when there is in fact room for a sub-field, as there is indeed in Shakespeare Studies. Given Dickens's global cultural status, a significant research project in this area would cast important light on the processes (technological, affective, political, economic, geographical, institutional, and mnemonic) by which literary culture more generally can exert influence or impact on the public sphere.
The PhD proposed here will take as its research base the museum itself (the former Doughty Street home of Dickens in Bloomsbury), examining its history, exhibitions, visitor information, merchandise, educational outreach, and archives. It will also utilise the Dickens bicentenary website hosted by the Museum and funded by the AHRC, which is the most comprehensive record which exists of the global celebrations which took part in 2012. The archives themselves comprise the biggest uncatalogued collection of newspaper clippings relating to Dickens in the world, charting all things Dickensian in the news from Dickens's death in 1870 to the early twentieth century. The Museum houses all the records of the Dickens Fellowship, a world-wide society of Dickens scholars and amateur enthusiasts which publishes the Dickensian magazine and whose mission is dedicated to preserving Dickens heritage. In addition, the Museum owns an expansive, uncatalogued collection of objects which is housed onsite and an unrivalled collection of books on Dickensian topography and Dickens walks, a side to the Dickens publishing industry which is still thriving.
Although the PhD student in receipt of the studentship may wish to link their core research to some work on other heritage institutions and bodies which have played a part in the Dickens industry (e.g. the Museum of London, the V&A, the smaller Dickens museums in Portsmouth and Broadstairs, the now defunct Dickens World in Chatham, Eastgate House in Rochester, the British Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and relevant tourist boards), there is more than enough material at the Charles Dickens Museum for this to comprise the focus. It holds well in excess of 100,000 items ranging from letters and manuscripts to furniture, personal effects and the only clothing of Dickens known to have survived. The student will have the opportunity to play a full part in the 150-year anniversary conference and celebratory activities.
The project will be archivally and empirically based, yet in dialogue with theoretical frames from all the disciplines already mentioned.