Teaching Social Justice through Nineteenth-Century Literature
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Introducing high school students to the pleasures of reading Dickens has long been an essential part of the Dickens Project's mission. We hope students who learn to appreciate Dickens's novels will become lifelong readers of his work and other 19th-century writers.
Since 2015, the Dickens Project has partnered with the Neighborhood Academic Initiative in South Los Angeles to support a program that introduces high school AP English students to the book we study each year at the Dickens Universe.
For the first-generation students who attend the Dickens Universe scholarly conference, it's a unique opportunity to taste the college experience at UC Santa Cruz alongside international faculty, graduate students, and Victorian literature aficionados.
Help us expand this amazing partnership to reach high school students and teachers!
Photo by Doriana Hammond
In April of 2022, the Dickens Project piloted a new outreach initiative for high school students in the Santa Cruz area. "A Dickens Day of Writing" is an educational enrichment program designed to help high school juniors and seniors improve their critical thinking and writing skills.
Working with local teachers, the Project developed a curricular unit centered on Dickens's essay "Night Walks." The unit included classroom discussions and observational fieldwork exercises encouraging students to reflect on issues of homelessness and poverty in Santa Cruz.
The program culminated in a dedicated writing retreat at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz that brought students together with mentors from the community for a day of focused essay writing and revision. Winning essay writers received prizes and became eligible for scholarships to attend the Dickens Universe.
"One of the things I appreciate most at the Dickens Universe is its mix of younger and older participants—high schoolers, teachers, Road Scholars, and more. With their excitement and fresh ideas about Dickens, high school students are an important part of that mix," notes Dickens Project Director John O. Jordan.
Your gift will provide critical support to these students and teachers and allow us to expand this unique program to more students at high schools throughout the Monterey Bay Area and beyond.
Thank you for joining the Friends of the Dickens Project in making a difference in the lives of these high school students!