Thomas Hardy - EN702

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 30 (15)







Thomas Hardy is one of the most important writers of the last two hundred years. Born into a family that was somewhere below working class, he went on to become one of the most articulate explorers of human emotion and circumstance, whose abilities to describe the natural world are unmatched by any of his peers. In later life, he had achieved so much in the world of letters that even royalty visited him at his home. In his early sixties, he retired from novel-writing and decided to have a go at publishing poetry, unaware that he would go on to have an equally long career as a poet and would become one of the preeminent writers of verse in the twentieth century.

In this module, you will discover why Hardy persists in being one of Britain's most important, modern and relevant writers. It will explore the range of Hardy's work including his novels, some short fiction poetry, prose, and autobiography, in the light of specifically nineteenth-century concerns such as the emergence of modernity, the impact of science, the beginnings of modernism, and the shift from the rural to the urban. Themes to be explored will include Hardy’s changing position as an author throughout his career; his development of forms of narrative; his views on history and philosophy; the representation of class; anxieties about social, cultural and economic change; the status of the human and the animal; his interest in evolutionary theory and its widespread effect; and finally, his career and position as a twentieth-century poet.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

This course will be taught by weekly two-hour seminars plus a further directed hour.

Method of assessment

Two essays of 3000 words each (45% for each essay, forming a total of 90%), with the remaining 10% coming from a seminar performance mark.

Preliminary reading

Thomas Hardy –
Under the Greenwood Tree (1872) - Penguin
The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)- Penguin
The Woodlanders (1887) - Penguin
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891) - Penguin
Jude the Obscure (1896)- Penguin
The Complete Poems (2001)- Palgrave

Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy: A Biography Revisited (2004; updated version of 1982 biography) - OUP
Claire Tomalin, Thomas Hardy (2007) - Penguin
The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy by Thomas Hardy ed Michael Millgate (1985)- Macmillan

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to demonstrate:

• Skills that will enable them to work theoretically and productively across a variety of ‘texts’ by Thomas Hardy - including genres such as autobiography, poetry, short fiction, and novels.
• A conceptual understanding of the different literary traditions and movements out of which Hardy’s works arise (classic realism, sensation fiction, tragedy, lyric poetry).
• A systematic understanding of a range of theoretical, aesthetic, and cultural perspectives towards the study of Hardy’s prose and poetry.
• Complex and historically situated approaches to concepts such as nature, ecology, evolution, animal, and human, coupled with an appreciation of those terms’ uncertainty and ambiguity.
• A capacity to structure nuanced arguments centred on the close relationship between aesthetics, landscape and the body in literature.

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following generic learning outcomes:

• Display an ability to apply close reading techniques to a range of literary texts and, to a lesser extent, paintings and films, and to make productive comparisons between them.
• Apply the skills necessary for participating in group discussions and giving oral presentations.
• Demonstrate an increased capacity for self-directed research and the ability to discuss, evaluate and creatively deploy secondary critical and theoretical perspectives.
• Show an ability to construct original, articulate and well-substantiated arguments.

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