Date of Award

5-1-2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

McEathron, Scott

Abstract

My study triangulates three recurrent Hardyan concerns – gender, interiority, and form – as they are shaped by the sub-genres of the serial novel, the sentimental novel, and the novel of sensation. I explore Thomas Hardy’s adjustments of traditional forms to new paths, including his vision of a new sort of stealth-realism, in the representation of subjectivity. When we consider Hardy’s vexed depictions of gender through the lens of form, the debate over Hardy’s “unfair” (misogynist) or “progressive” (feminist) representations becomes less polarized and allows for broader examinations of Hardy’s experimental impulses. It is my contention that Hardy is relentlessly engaged with female representation – and narrative representation, overall – as a major formal and ideological problem, and that he demonstrably engages with this problem at various levels of remove: his renderings of subjectivity are not simply attempts at faithful depiction, but meta-commentary on the processes of narrative technique and gendered representation.

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