Stapleford Granary

Course description

Reading Great Expectations

Sunday 28 January 2018

Course type: Literary Course



14.00-17.30 £50 / £45 students

Tea and coffee provided.

In partnership with Literature Cambridge

Come for an intensive afternoon studying Dickens's much-loved novel, Great Expectations (1861). There will be accessible lectures by leading Cambridge scholars Corinna Russell and Jan-Melissa Schramm, followed by a seminar in which everyone can participate, ask questions, and do some close reading in the traditional Cambridge manner. Tea and coffee provided.


Dr Corinna Russell

Great Expectations and the Story of Economic Man

In Great Expectations (1861), Pip is part of an economic system. His identity is bound up with the economic machinery of bank notes, credit, promises, oaths and fraudulent practices. The novel asks difficult questions about the transactions that we make with one another, through markets, through the giving of gifts, and through participation in moral ideas of guilt, obligation and responsibility. 

Dr Jan-Melissa Schramm

Mercy for Magwitch? Dickens and the problems of poetic justice in Great Expectations

In Great Expectations, Magwitch is transported as a convict to New South Wales. Convicts are represented as a form of portable property, ‘carted here and carted there … as much as a silver tea-kettle’, with lives ransomed to the state for the most trivial of reasons. What does the novel say about Magwitch’s experiences, and what does this tell us about Dickens’s views of mercy, guilt, innocence and human freedom? The lecture will also look briefly at some contemporary novels which retell Magwitch’s story.



Dickens, Great Expectations (1861).

Any edition. Penguin or OUP especially recommended.



Dr Corinna Russell is Fellow and Director of Studies in English at Emmanuel College. She has published on repetition in the poetry of Wordsworth, Blake and Byron as well as the novels of Dickens, and is beginning a new project on the idea of song in Romantic and Victorian writings.

Dr Jan-Melissa Schramm is a Fellow of Trinity Hall, a Lecturer in the Faculty of English, Cambridge, and Deputy Director of CRASSH. She was a lawyer before she became a literary scholar. She currently teaches an MPhil course on post-colonial re-writings of Great Expectations. She has published books and articles on the Brontës, Dickens, George Eliot, and many other nineteenth-century works.