Thursday, November 18, 2004

The School of Fine Arts of Fairmont State University presents "Are There No Workhouses?: The Social Background of Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol,'" a lecture by Dr. James Matthews at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, in Multi-media Room A of the Ruth Ann Musick Library.

Matthews teaches courses at Fairmont State in 19th-century British literature and children's literature. He holds an M.A. in history from Ohio State University and an M.A. and
Ph.D. in English from Duquesne University. He wrote his dissertation on Victorian ghost stories, including "A Christmas Carol," and has spoken before the North American Dickens Fellowship on Dickens's use of fairy tale motifs. He is currently working on the ways in which 19th-century British writers are influencing writers of contemporary children's fantasy, such as J.K. Rowling. Matthews will focus his lecture on the material conditions of poverty in the first third of the 19th century, to give a sense of the urgency of Dickens's message in "A Christmas Carol" and will address social problems of the time such as child labor, crime and efforts at public relief. This lecture is free and open to the public.

Matthews will also be featured in a panel discussion with Dr. Angela Schwer, also of the Department of Language & Literature at Fairmont State, about social and economic problems of the Victorian Era. The panel discussion will follow the Sunday, Dec. 5, Masquers and Town & Gown performance of "A Christmas Carol."

Schwer, Associate Professor of English, received her Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1996, writing a dissertation on 19th century British missionary travel narratives. She has taught at FSU since 1997, and participated in an National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar on Victorian Religion and Rhetoric in 2002.

Other performances of "A Christmas Carol" will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 2-4, and Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 9-11, in the Wallman Hall Theatre on the main FS campus. For tickets, call the Box Office at (304) 367-4240. After each performance, volunteers from non-profit organizations will be collecting cash donations to assist deserving families during the holiday season.