The exhibition features a rich collection of rare Dickens artifacts, on loan from the Charles Dickens Museum of London, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, the American Antiquarian Society, the New York Public Library, the Fellman Collection at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Perkins School for the Blind, and other institutions. The 1842 portrait of the young Dickens, painted by Boston artist Francis Alexander, will receive its first public display in over 30 years. Also included are the charming 1841 Daniel Maclise portrait of the Dickens children (who were left at home when Charles and Catherine Dickens visited America), the Boston Line Type (raised letter) edition of The Old Curiosity Shop donated by Dickens to the Perkins School for the Blind in 1868, Lorwnzo Fowler's report on the 1842 phrenological examination of Dickens, original letters, first editions, and other special artifacts. Interactive elements throughout the exhibit allow visitors to engage actively with our materials.
The exhibition is free to the public, and we are offering 75+ programs over the seven-month run of the exhibition. We are also holding a symposium this summer (see previous blog post). Please check us out at http://www.uml.edu/dickens.
More about the Exhibition:
In 1842 when Charles Dickens and his wife, Catherine Hogarth Dickens, traveled to North America, he had already achieved immense fame. Blockbuster hits such as Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and The Old Curiosity Shop had established the 29-year-old Dickens as the most popular writer of the era, and, in a new age of mass media culture, he was the first true celebrity. After this trip we see a new vigor and complexity in his writing and a heightened social consciousness. America changed him. He began to see that his role as a pop culture hero came with great accountability. It is no coincidence that the year after he returned home, he published his iconic Christmas Carol, a tale of radical transformation and social responsibility.
The exhibition “Dickens and Massachusetts: A Tale of Power and Transformation” focuses on several pivotal moments from the 1842 and 1867-68 trips to America, exploring these themes:
Dickens Finds His Power
The Early Years and Literary Fame
A Growing Family
A Magnetic Personality: Mesmerism and Celebrity
Bridging Two Worlds
Departure from Liverpool
The Passage over Stormy Seas
Arrival in Boston: "Here we are!"
Conscience and Controversy
Harvard and the Unitarians
Felton Friendship: "Our hearts are of the largest size"
A Controversial Stand on Copyright
Models for Reform
Perkins School for the Blind
Lowell Mills: "A large, populous, thriving place"
Reading Dickens Reading America
Capturing Dickens through Art and Phrenology
Capturing America in a Travel Book : "slavery, spittoons, and senators"
The Scourge of Slavery: Dickens, Channing, and Longfellow
Transformations: From 1842 to 1868
Dickens on the Stage: The American Reading Tour
The Great International Walking Match
Dickens Lives On
“Dickens and Massachusetts: A Tale of Power and Transformation” is co-curated by Diana Archibald, Associate Professor of English at UMass Lowell and director of the 2002 "Dickens and America" project in Lowell, and David Blackburn, Chief of Cultural Resources and Programs at Lowell National Historical Park. Other contributing scholars include Joel Brattin, Professor of Humanities, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Natalie McKnight, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning, and Professor of Humanities, Boston University; Lillian Nayder, Professor and Chair of English at Bates College; and Christie Jackson, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Old Sturbridge Village.