OC English professor’s book on Dickens receives critical acclaim

By College Relations | April 12, 2023

Bite the Hand that Reads
OC English Professor Terry Scarborough and his book, Bite the Hand that Reads: Dickens, Animals and Sanitary Reform

When it comes to studying at Okanagan College, you never know when class discussion will spark ground-breaking academic work.

OC English Professor Terry Scarborough is pausing these days to enjoy the accolades from a high-profile review of his book, Bite the Hand that Reads: Dickens, Animals and Sanitary Reform, a concept that sprung from classroom discussion in English 231: Studies in Popular Narrative.

He regularly attends the Victorian Popular Fiction Association’s conference at the University of London and decided to explore the topic during a presentation.

“I actually wrote the abstract for the conference in class, so students observed this come together in front of them,” he said. “It just took off from there.”

He gave several presentations unpacking animals in Charles Dickens’s work, which led to a publishing contract with Edward Everett Root Publishers. Published in 2021, the book explores animals with a specific focus on their role in shaping attitudes towards poverty, particularly around filth and disease.

It created waves in academic circles and can be found in university libraries across North America, including University of Toronto, Brock, Trent, Simon Fraser, MIT, Princeton, UCLA, Yale and Stanford, to name a few.

But when he found out scholarly journals were beginning to read through the body of work, Scarborough prepared himself to be humbled.

“Academic reviews are a genre unto themselves, and Dickens Quarterly is among the most prestigious publications in Victorian studies. I was terrified when I found out they were reviewing my book,” Scarborough laughs.

In the review, Dickens Quarterly lauded Scarborough’s book, noting “the approach is novel and produces astute readings.”

“I honestly could not have asked for more; this is huge recognition,” he said. “Receiving a glowing review from this publication really means the effort was worth it. With this type of work, there are always ways to improve – but after this, I honestly feel proud of my work. It’s a nice feeling.”

Tags: English, Arts University Studies



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