Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist:  The Search for Social Justice

Four Tuesdays, January 8, 15, 22, and 29, 6:30–8:00 p.m. | Private houses; addresses will be provided to subscribers. Limited Enrollment

During the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’s birth, February 7, 1812, thousands of commemorations were held all over the world. In first- and third-world countries alike, Dickens was hailed as a champion of the poor and an outspoken activist for social justice. Oliver Twist became the key novel embedding these Dickensian virtues. This course will look at the philosophy and apparatus for dispensing social justice in early nineteenth-century Britain.  Professor Robert Patten of Rice University will lead us in discovering the various ways that the novel Oliver Twist addresses these issues, including identity theft, poverty, and intellectual property. He will also reflect on how today’s debates parallel those conducted in the 1830s.

Robert L. Patten, the Lynette S. Autrey Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Rice University, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK, and 2012 Scholar in Residence at the Charles Dickens Museum, is author of dozens of articles and reviews on nineteenth-century British literature.  As part of the City of London’s program of events to celebrate Dickens, Professor Patten was invited to lecture, teach seminars, record programs for BBC and videos for Cityread.  He is author of George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art; Charles Dickens and His Publishers; and Charles Dickens and “Boz”: The Birth of the Industrial-Age Author; and co-editor of Literature in the Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century British Publishing and Reading Practices.



Finishing up Spring 2018! 

Mexico City: Past, Present, Future
April 3-9
And our travelers are there in the present!


Gorbachev: His Life and Times
Monday, April 16, 6:30-8:00 P.M. | The Junior League, 1811 Briar Oaks Ln, 77027
Co-sponsored with World Affairs Council of Houston


Behind the Pages: A Conversation with William Middleton 
Tuesday, April 24, 6:30-8:00 P.M.


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.