WIP with Hannah Leclair on "Realist Provocations in Hardy's Early Novels"

Hannah Leclair
5:00pm - December/6/2023

Hannah will present, "Weathering the Elements: Realist Provocations in Hardy's Early Novels," a conference paper drawing on material from a dissertation chapter-in-progress which explores the marked pictorialism of Thomas Hardy's Desperate Remedies (1871) and Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), and his late-career turn to poetry.

While Hardy's first two novels share a history of composition, Desperate Remedies is the more overtly experimental work. Its generic hybridity was illegible to contemporary reviewers who condemned the novel as provocative and immoral. Under the Greenwood Tree’s pastoral narrative may be understood as Hardy’s strategic retreat from his first novel’s sensationalism and densely-plotted form. By revisiting their histories of composition and publication, this paper argues Hardy found himself experimenting with elements of Victorian realism in both novels—building with unwanted materials and instrumentalizing formal conventions. Although Hardy notably rejects the term realism, and many of his novels are read under the rubrics of sensation fiction or naturalism, this chapter characterizes Hardy's work, early and late, as persistently engaged in realist experiments that highlight Victorian realism’s most pressing contradictions. Ultimately, as the chapter-length version of this argument will suggest, Hardy's novels thoroughly re-imagine realism's historical relationship to the picturesque, transforming realism into a landscape aesthetic in its own right.

Location:  844 Williams Hall

Vegan and non-vegan refreshments provided