Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Geology

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph S. Wood

Second Advisor

Dr. Missy Dehn Kubitschek


The hypothesis of this thesis is that literature can be a valuable source of geographic information. Literary landscapes capture both the material and perceptual images of places, and often reflect the real world upon which they are based. In addition, literary geography plays an important integrative role of binding together two separate disciplines, literature and geography, and demonstrates that knowledge about the world can be obtained from both the artistic as well as the scientific approaches. The primary strength of the use of literature for geographic research is that it captures the human experience with the landscape.The goal of this thesis is to analyze Charles Dickens's use of his literary landscapes to bring attention to the environmental problems of nineteenth-century London. Such a study is justified because his writings shaped the popular image of the city and presented a picture of London to the thousands of people who read his books. Even today, the "Dickens landscape" is familiar to us, not only from reading his books, but also from movie, television, and stage adaptations of his writings and the English tourist landscapes associated with his works (Figure 1). Dickens is known for his social and environmental criticisms of nineteenth-century London. He recognized that he had an extraordinary capacity not only to observe and record the details of a scene, but also to articulate their meaning. One of the goals of his writings was to bring attention to the problems of the urban environment in an attempt to bring about reform (Schwarzbach 1979, 121-123; Wilson 1970, 7; Nelson 1981, 172; Drabble 1979, 213). While many scholars have studied his contribution to social reform, this study is unique in analyzing how Dickens used elements of his literary landscapes to advocate environmental reform in nineteenth-century London. In addition, this study will demonstrate that the sociological novel, which has by and large been ignored by literary geographers, has value for geographic research.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Geography/Geology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1987, Priscilla Kaufmann

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