Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

On the Mantelpiece For You: Letters in the Novels of Thomas Hardy

Class

Article

College

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Faculty Mentor

Brian McCuskey

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Even as modern technology continues to introduce new modes of communication, people still write letters. Letters are a primary vehicle for written communication and have played a key role in forming, maintaining, and preserving relationships for centuries. Particularly in Victorian England, letters facilitated communication over a range of space and time, capturing the momentary and immortalizing the impermanent. Thomas Hardy included letters in his novels to further plot, develop characters, and think critically about the function of written communication in society. Hardy’s exploration of this medium transformed over the course of his career. This essay seeks to understand the evolving role of letters in three key Thomas Hardy novels: The Return of the Native, Tess of the D’urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure. Each of these literary works uses the letter form in different ways: to examine letters as objects in the physical world, to consider their ability to facilitate relationships, and to explore their exploitation and misuse. My research demonstrates how Hardy’s use of letters in each novel explores their limitations and indicates his devolving faith in the effectiveness of writing.

Location

Room 421

Start Date

4-12-2018 3:00 PM

End Date

4-12-2018 4:15 PM

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Apr 12th, 3:00 PM Apr 12th, 4:15 PM

On the Mantelpiece For You: Letters in the Novels of Thomas Hardy

Room 421

Even as modern technology continues to introduce new modes of communication, people still write letters. Letters are a primary vehicle for written communication and have played a key role in forming, maintaining, and preserving relationships for centuries. Particularly in Victorian England, letters facilitated communication over a range of space and time, capturing the momentary and immortalizing the impermanent. Thomas Hardy included letters in his novels to further plot, develop characters, and think critically about the function of written communication in society. Hardy’s exploration of this medium transformed over the course of his career. This essay seeks to understand the evolving role of letters in three key Thomas Hardy novels: The Return of the Native, Tess of the D’urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure. Each of these literary works uses the letter form in different ways: to examine letters as objects in the physical world, to consider their ability to facilitate relationships, and to explore their exploitation and misuse. My research demonstrates how Hardy’s use of letters in each novel explores their limitations and indicates his devolving faith in the effectiveness of writing.