Although we often hear that writing is a lonely occupation, in trying to thank everyone who helped bring this book to fruition, I realize that I, at least, almost never wrote alone. I have benefitted immeasurably from mentors and colleagues who have generously offered their time and advice. This project began as a dissertation at Columbia University, where I was fortunate to have the support and direction of Steven Marcus, who encouraged my desire to become familiar with the "extra-literary" aspects of the Victorian period. I am indebted to Edward Said, Jonathan Arac, John Rosenberg, Howard Horwitz, Andreas Huyssen, Charlotte Bonica, and the late Alice Fredman for at one time or another agreeing to read -- or more selflessly, listen to -- early versions of parts of this book. I owe much to the Critical Texts collective for providing a stimulating intellectual community at Columbia and to Charles Biggs, Jon Anderson, and Richard Moye for their willingness to read and comment on my work at any time.
I am extremely grateful to the University of California Dickens Project for allowing me to present portions of this book at two of the Project's annual conferences. I have profited enormously from my conversations with Catherine Gallagher, Hilary Schor, Regenia Gagnier, Martha Vicinus, Fred Kaplan, Murray Baumgarten, John Jordan, Robert Newsom, Peter Logan, Gerhard Joseph, and Robert Polhemus. Of my colleagues at UC, Riverside, Peter Mileur, John Ganim, Ralph Hanna, Carole-Anne Tyler, Traise Yamamoto, Carlton Smith, George Haggerty, Katherine Kinney, Ruth ApRoberts, Edwin Eigner, and Parama Roy have all read large sections of different drafts of Novel Possibilities, and their criticism has been most constructive. I especially want to thank Deirdre David, whose reading of an early version of this book helped me to rethink its presentation and its scope, and Helena Michie, who offered me encouragement and insightful suggestions while I was in the midst of that rethinking. I am also grateful to Robert Patten and James Buzard, whose thoughtful commentaries on the entire manuscript contributed to making this a better book now than it was when it first landed on their desks.
The University of California at Riverside Committee on Research has