The Theological Dickens  book cover
1st Edition

The Theological Dickens

ISBN 9780367742157
Published November 19, 2021 by Routledge
284 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This is the first collection to investigate Charles Dickens on his vast and various opinions about the uses and abuses of the tenets of Christian faith that imbue English Victorian culture. Although previous studies have looked at his well-known antipathies toward Dissenters, Evangelicals, Catholics, and Jews, they have also disagreed about Dickens’ thoughts on Unitarianism and speculated on doctrines of Protestantism that he endorsed or rejected. Besides addressing his depiction of these religious groups, the volume’s contributors locate gaps in scholarship and unresolved illations about poverty and charity, representations of children, graveyards, labor, scientific controversy, and other social issues through an investigation of Dickens’ theological concerns. In addition, given that Dickens’ texts continue to influence every generation around the globe, a timely inclusion in the collection is a consideration of the neo-Victorian multi-media representations of Dickens’ work and his ideas on theological questions pitched to a postmodern society.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Dickens’ Theology: A Hard Nut to Crack

Brenda Ayres

1 "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth": Dickens’ Non-Christian Theology

Brenda Ayres

2 Consecrated Abominations: Pilgrimage and Churchyard Homage in Dickens’ Novels

Daniel Stuart

3 Dickens and the Specter of Materialism: The Spiritual Significance of Ghosts in the Christmas Books and Ghost Stories

Christine Schintgen

4 Dickens Demystified: The Jesuitical Journey of Ebenezer Scrooge Through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Mary-Antoinette Smith

5 "For Whom the Bell Tolls": Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge

Julie Donovan

6 "Gazing at All the Church and Chapel Going": Social Views of Religious

Nonconformity in Dickens’ Fiction

Lydia Craig

7 Needful Things: Dickens, Social Justice, and the Meaning of Human Work

Susan Johnston

8 The Gospel of Modernity: Idolatry as the Road to Grace in David Copperfield and

Great Expectations

Marie Heneghan

9 Unheavenly and Broken Homes in Dickens’ Novels

Brenda Ayres

10 Ghosts of Dickens’ Past: The Death of Judaism in Oliver Twist and Our Mutual


Lindsay Katzir

11 Theological Shifts in Dickensian Narratives Before and After Darwin’s Origin:

Little Dorrit and Our Mutual Friend

Aaron K. H. Ho

12 Teeming City, Tangled Web: Dickens’ Affinity with Darwin

Tony Schwab

13 Theology of the Street: Dickensian Characters for the Twenty-first Century


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Brenda Ayres, now retired from full-time residential teaching, currently teaches online for several universities. Besides the listing of publications below, her additional works can be found at Amazon, and they include her first book on Dickens Dissenting Women in Dickens’ Domestic Novels: Subversion of Domestic Ideology (Praeger, 1998). She published two other books by Routledge: Victorians and Their Animals: Beast on a Leash (2019) and Animals and Their Children in Victorian Culture (2020).

Sarah E. Maier is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of New Brunswick. Besides the works listed below as coeditor and coauthor, she has published extensively on the Brontës; edited special issues on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Neo-Victorian Considerations and Charlotte Brontë at the Bicentennial as well as published articles on biofiction, neo-Victorian vampires, Penny Dreadful, transmedia adaptations; Anne Lister, and neo-Victorian narratives.


Brenda Ayres and Sarah E. Maier coedited and contributed chapters to the following: Neo-Victorian Madness: Rediagnosing Nineteenth-Century Mental Illness in Literature and Other Media (Palgrave, 2020); Neo-Gothic Narratives: Illusory Allusions from the Past (Anthem, 2020); Animals and Their Children in Victorian Culture (Routledge, 2020); and Reinventing Marie Corelli for the Twenty-first Century (Anthem 2019). The two cowrote A Vindication of the Redhead: The Typology of Red Hair Throughout the Literary and Visual Arts (Palgrave 2021) and will be publishing Neo-Victorian Things: Re-Imagining Nineteenth-Century Material Cultures with Palgrave in 2021 (adding Danielle Dove as coeditor).