Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

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.

Message To Sponsor

Ive always been interested in how authors use medical motifs as a literary device and how medical literature is received in the society. While medical narration is often considered a sub-genre and does not receive much attention, SURF gives me the opportunity to further investigate this topic of my interest. Not only do I hope to gain amazing intellectual growth through this program, SURF also give me an opportunity to explore my next stepa graduate school programthrough first taking on the responsibility for a self-designed research project. Thank you SURF.
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Major: English
Mentor: C.D. Blanton, English
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