In 1842, Charles Dickens visited several prominent cities in the United States and British North America. He subsequently published a travelogue, American Notes, detailing his experience in North American society. He arrived in Halifax Harbour in January of 1842, and the fledgling garrison town would be incorporated as the City of Halifax in the same year.
The theme of the 2015 Dickens Society Symposium is inspired by Dickens’ 1842 arrival in Halifax by sea, as well as the city’s geographical and historical situation. Like other strategically significant ports, such as Gibraltar, nineteenth-century Halifax was conceived of as a bastion of Britain’s military defense network. Imperial troops were garrisoned at the Citadel, noted by Dickens as “a strong fortress” at “the highest point” of the city, throughout the century in order to deter American incursions into British North America and to defend against attacks made along the North Atlantic. Indeed, by 1870, Halifax remained the only settlement in British North America to boast an imperial garrison, as British troops were withdrawn from the rest of Canada and command headquarters for the British armed forces were transferred to the city. In this sense, Halifax’s civic and imperial identities are intimately bound up with its maritime character.
Papers (deliverable in twenty minutes) related to conference theme, “Liquid Dickens,” are especially welcome, but papers on all aspects of Dickens and his works will be warmly considered.
Potential topics related to the symposium theme include:
- Dickens and the seaside, port, river, or other waterways
- Financial liquidity, solvency, currency, and exchange
- Blood, impurities, and circulation
- Channel crossings and other sea voyages
- Drink and imbibing in the works of Dickens
- Social and ontological fluidity in Dickens
- Chemicals, science, and technology
One page proposals should be sent by email to Dr. Sara Malton, Department of English, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals must be submitted by March 31, 2015.