Shan-Ying Li Humanities and Social Science
The Narration of Smallpox in Charles Dicken's Bleak House
This summer, I will be researching the narration of smallpox in Charles Dickens Bleak House. While much has been said about his influence on the literary development and the Victorian society, Dickens use of the medical motif is often undermined. In this project, I will focus my inquiry on smallpox. My research will be divided into two phases, one on the historical events regarding smallpox in England in the 1850s, and the other on the literary criticism of Dickens work. Within these two phases of research, I will try to register Dickens use of imagery, diction, tone and allusions to the historical events. Furthermore, I would like to explore the reasons why Dickens uses a disfiguring disease as his major motif in his well-received novel. I hope this research will ultimately develop into a senior thesis for the English major.