Saint Martin’s English Department celebrates Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday with marathon readings

February 3, 2012

LACEY, WASHINGTON — Saint Martin’s University is joining the worldwide celebration of the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth Tuesday, Feb. 7, with a marathon reading of the renowned author’s works. Saint Martin’s English Department, along with the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta will host the event from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Harned Hall on the Lacey campus, 5000 Abbey Way SE. Students, faculty, and staff will read twenty minute excerpts from Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, and many more favorites from the nineteenth century’s best known English authors. Readers will make the stories come alive for Dickens fans, who are welcome to stay and listen for just a few minutes, or the entire six hours. The celebration is free and open to the public.

Julia Chavez, Ph.D., who is currently teaching a course on Dickens, explains, “Dickens’ work provides invaluable commentary and insight into the lives of people from the Victorian age. By honoring his life and contributions we are creating an opportunity to learn about one of the most dynamic periods in history.”

Event organizer Melinda Thomas ‘12, a Sigma Tau Delta member, says Dickens’ stories has been reworked and retold so many times over the past 200 years it has become ingrained in the western public psyche. She adds, “It would be a challenge to find someone out there, for example, who hasn’t heard of the Ghost of Christmas Past. Dickens’ work is so timeless that it has provided themes in the HBO series The Wire.”

Sigma Tau Delta’s academic advisor, Jamie Olson, Ph.D., says, “Part of the mission of Sigma Tau Delta is to organize cultural events that promote literature, so when the students learned that Dickens’ bicentennial was coming up, it seemed the perfect opportunity to put together something for the community that’s both literary and fun.”

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Jamie L. Olson, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of English

Sarah Holdener
Director of community relations and event management
Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University