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In Plain Engel-ish

A Star Is Born -- And Dies!

Here begins a sad, sorry saga of how my California graduate career at UCLA became sidetracked into Hollywood. It had all the elements of a classic film script: struggling graduate student lured into tinsel-town; struggling graduate student offered film contract; struggling graduate student mashed and then dropped like the proverbial hot potato.It all began simply by drawing a lot from a hat. I had enrolled in my first Dickens seminar at UCLA. The professor discovered that there were exactly fifteen students in the class; coincidentally, Dickens ultimately wrote fifteen novels. Wanting us each to research a different work by Dickens,...

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Three First Meetings

Since so many people have asked me how this all began, it is my great pleasure to reveal in this essay the very funny and modest beginnings of our organization. Here is the story of how our tiny Charles Dickens Reading Club has become a national network for lovers of literature and history.It all began in 1979 with a call from Dorothy Ellwood, a delightful woman who had just been appointed the director for a new arts center here in Raleigh, North Carolina. She knew that I was an English professor and asked if I would be interested in leading...

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Washing My Hands Of Technology

North Carolina was smack-dab in the middle.In 1959, driving from our home in Indianapolis, Indiana, down to my grandparents' house in Miami, Florida, when I was eleven, we veered east into the Tar Heel state to drive on its newly opened first leg of Interstate 95 from Kenly in the north to Fayetteville in the south. To my annoying hourly backseat question of "Are we there yet?" my mom could finally respond: "No, but we're exactly half-way."North Carolina had held a soft spot in my elementary-school heart ever since third grade when I'd ordered my first joke book from Weekly...

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