Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 20 Hours. (10 x 2 hour workshop seminars)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:

1. demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the primary texts on the module and a critical awareness of the broader issues raised by the module;

2. engage in a coherent oral discussion of the texts;

3. be capable of writing about them in a structured and well-argued way.


This module aims:

1. to enable students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of a range of writing by one of the major English writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries;

2. to allow students to gain a knowledge and understanding of the historical, cultural, and biographical contexts of Hardy's work;

3. to enable students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the changing reception of Hardy's work;

4. to explore issues of form and genre in fiction and poetry.

Brief description

Hardy continues to be one of the most frequently serialised, televised, dramatised and film-contextualised of novelists, and far more people read him for pleasure than because they are made to. Why? Is it because he re-invented Wessex, was a proto-feminist, was environmentally friendly, or is it simply that as pained postmodernists we respond to his 'ache of modernism'?

This module presents an opportunity to (re)assess Hardy in some depth, both as prose-writer and poet. We shall consider to what extent his works resist the structure of literary history, the formulations of critical theory, and the sub-divisions of the syllabus. What exactly makes Hardy a modern(ist) poet, and how far is it adequate to regard him as a Victorian novelist? Hardy simultaneously participates in local and global culture; a component part of national heritage, and the English Tourist Board, he is widely read and translated throughout the world. An intensely private man who literally 'wrote himself' by ghosting his own official biography, Hardy insistently argued that art distorts reality while stressing the absence of autobiographical elements in his work. Studying Hardy invites us to reconsider our notions of 'literary value' and interrogate the process of canon-formation. Reading Hardy remains a pleasure.



_Seminar 1: Emma Lavinia in Lyonesse: the intertextuality of Letters, Poetry and Romance

We shall examine Hardy's letters to 'Dearest Emmie', the 'Poems of 1912-13', written in her memory, and A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) a novel set in Cornwall and partially reflecting his courtship of Emma.

_Seminars 2 & 3: Julie Christie as Bathsheba: Far From the Madding Crowd (1874)

By means of a special study of John Schlesinger's 1969 film text of Far From the Madding Crowd we shall explore some of the central problems of filming Hardy's novels.

_Seminars 4 & 5: Auld Dorset Receipts for Frumenty: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1882)

How Green was my Barley? We shall respond to Hardy's concern for corruption, moral, commercial, economic, and agricultural, as twenty-first century readers and purchasers of organic wholefoods.

_Seminars 5 & 6: A Pure Woman and The Pure Drop: Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)

Feckless parenting: were Hardy's attitudes towards women, tragedy, and sadism conditioned by early experiences of reading the Greek classics or attending public executions?

_Seminars 7 & 8. 'A woman of the feminist movement': Sue Bridehead and Jude the Obscure (1895)

Hardy's treatment of sexual relationships, gender, social class, and science in Jude the Obscure will be considered together with how this affected the critical reception of this novel.

_Seminars 9 & 10: The Breaking of Nations: Satires of Circumstance (1914)

We shall consider Hardy as the first modern poet of war, and a significant influence upon First World War poets, such as Siegfried Sassoon.

  • Detailed bibliographies will be circulated in class. Besides the texts listed above - and do read widely in the poetry - see the Reading Lists below for useful introductory reading.
  • Begin to explore the web resources; try the Thomas Hardy Association and the pages of Dr Martin Ray of Aberdeen University.


This module is at CQFW Level 6