Hardy and Women Who Did: the Coming of Modernity (EAS3100)

StaffProfessor Angelique Richardson - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Exploring the relationship of the late Victorians to modernity, the module aims to recreate the time in which New Women, Thomas Hardy, and other men such as George Gissing and George Moore, were writing - a moment of dynamic social transformation, new scientific understanding,and heightened self-consciousness. Working with novels, short stories, poems, letters, periodical articles, illustrations, and material from Exeter's Special Collections, we will explore issues of class, urbanisation and sexual identity, fears of racial degeneration and the intersection of debates on gender with imperial discourses.  We will also consider ways in which new ideas about human-animal relations entered fiction, and look at Hardy's engagement with environmental issues.

As we consider the emergence of new literary forms, including the rise of the short story, we will ask how important biography and autobiography are to our reading of literary texts, and also consider contemporary views as to the social function of fiction. A reading pack containing contemporary material from, for example, the periodical press will be available via ELE from the beginning of the module.  The one-hour seminar each week will cover a variety of contextual topics, and there will also be an introductory session in the University’s archival library; short student presentations; and a lecture on Hardy and Devon.  We will also watch film and TV adaptations of The Woodlanders, Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. Group work within seminars and short prepared seminar presentations will allow students to develop their own approaches to the key concepts of the module. 

Additionally, this module provides students with excellent skills for working in the cultural heritage sector, and a number of students who have followed this module have gone on to work on Hardy-related projects with the National Trust.  Students will have the opportunity to hear more about what the National Trust and related organisations, including museums, are doing today to promote knowledge and understanding of Hardy and the Victorians in schools and among the general public.   Students who have followed the module have had articles published in the Hardy Society Journal and, on completion of the module, students may wish to submit items to this peer-reviewed publication.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate an informed appreciation of specific authors and texts from the late nineteenth century;
  • 2. demonstrate an informed appreciation of the literary and cultural history of the late nineteenth century;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. demonstrate a capacity to make detailed connections between late-nineteenth-century literature and the social issues of the period;
  • 4. demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse the literature of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context;
  • 5. demonstrate an advanced ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history;
  • 6. demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups;
  • 8. through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose;
  • 9. through research for seminars, essays, and presentations demonstrate advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.

Syllabus plan

Sources for material – WHD = Women Who Did; material from reading pack as specified. Unless italicised, texts refer to short stories, poems, or late nineteenth-century journalism.

1. Gender

John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies (1865); John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women (1869), Eliza Lynn Linton, ‘The Girl of the Period’ (1868)

2. Darwin

Hardy, The Woodlanders (1887); selected poems from Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems: ‘‘The Ivy-Wife’, ‘In a Wood’, ‘Hap’, ‘The Darkling Thrush’, ‘Proud Songsters’, ‘The Pine Planters’ (in Complete Poems), see also  the poem by A. Mary F. Robinson, ‘Darwinism’,

3. New forms


Mona Caird, ‘The Yellow Drawing Room’ (1892); Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (1892); Sarah Grand, ‘The Undefinable’ (1894); Hardy, ‘The History of an Hour’ (from Complete Poems), and the poems by Constance Naden, 'Scientific Wooing' [reading pack],  A. Mary F. Robinson, ‘The Sonnet’ (1893) and Constance Naden, ‘The Two Artists’ (1894)


We will also look at extracts from Hardy's prose writing.

4. Marriage

Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891); Selected poems from Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems:  ‘The Orphaned Old Maid’ and ‘A Question of Marriage’, Mona Caird, ‘Marriage', Westminster Review (1888) pp. 186-201 [reading pack]

5. Women who did and didn't

Grant Allen, The Woman Who Did (1895, Broadview Press); George Egerton, ‘Virgin Soil’ (1894) [WHD]

6. Class

Hardy, Jude the Obscure (1895), and 'The Ruined Maid' in Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems; 'The Dorsetshire Labourer', Longman's Magazine (July, 1883); George Gissing, ‘A Daughter of the Lodge’ (1901)

7. Working women

Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), ‘We Field-women’ [Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems]; Constance Naden, ‘Changed’ [reading pack], ‘The Lady Doctor’ [reading pack]; Gertrude Colmore ‘The Woman in the Corner’ (1913), [WHD]; May Kendall, ‘Woman's Future’ (1887) [reading pack]

8. Decadence and degeneration

George Egerton, ‘A Cross Line’ (1893) [WHD]; Borgia Smudgiton (Owen Seaman) [WHD], ‘She-Notes’ (1894) [WHD]; Menie Muriel Dowie, Gallia (1895; J.M. Dent, 1995); Hardy, ‘A Practical Woman’;  [Complete Poems]

We will also look at extracts from the periodical press [in reading pack]

9. Hardy and Devon

'The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid', and in 'A Mere Interlude', in A Changed Man (available online at http://archive.org/stream/changedmanwaitin18harduoft#page/n5/mode/2up); selected poems, including'The West-of-Wessex Girl'; 'In a Museum' ; illustrations of Wessex [powerpoint]

10. Hardy and the city

Hardy, The Hand of Ethelberta: A Comedy in Chapters (1876); ‘A Wife in London’, ‘From Her in The Country’, ‘Coming Up Oxford Street: Evening’, ‘To a Tree in London’ [All in Thomas Hardy: TheComplete Poems];

11. The New Woman and the city

Alice Meynell, ‘A Woman in Grey’ (1896) (short story, WHD); Kate Chopin, ‘A Pair of Silk Stockings’ (1897) [WHD]; Hardy, ‘Dream of the City Shopwoman’ [Complete Poems]; Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Tiredness of Rosabel’ (1908) [WHD]

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled33seminars and lectures
Guided independent33study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent70seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent164reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentationsIn seminar (5-10mins)1-7, 9Verbal cohort feedback in seminar, with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay251500 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Essay proposal10500 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Essay654000 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6, 8-9Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-6, 8-9Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-6, 8-9Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:  Please use scholarly editions of the Hardy novels where possible (OUP, Penguin, Broadview Press)

Angelique Richardson (ed.), Women Who Did (Penguin 2005)

Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)

---. The Hand of Ethelberta: A Comedy in Chapters (1876)

---. The Woodlanders (1887)

---. Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)

---. Jude the Obscure (1895)

..., Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems ed. J. Gibson (Palgrave, 2001)

---'The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid'  and in 'A Mere Interlude' in A Changed Man (1913) http://archive.org/stream/changedmanwaitin18harduoft#page/n5/mode/2up

Thomas and Florence Hardy, The Life of Thomas Hardy (Wordsworth Literary Lives) (intro. Michael Irwin) (Wordsworth Literary Lives, 2007)

Mona Caird, ‘Marriage', Westminster Review (1888)

Grant Allen, The Woman Who Did (1895, Broadview Press)

Menie Muriel Dowie, Gallia (1895; J.M. Dent, 1995)

Reference – in Exeter library

Ann Heilmann (ed.), The Late Victorian Marriage Debate: A Collection of Key New Woman Texts 5 vols

(Routledge/Thoemmes Press 1998)

Ann Heilmann and Stephanie Forward (eds.), Sex, Social Purity and Sarah Grand 4 vols (Routledge, 2000)

Other texts and selected poems will be provided in a module pack at the beginning of the semester.

Selected secondary texts (further reading will be recommended via ELE)

Gillian Beer, Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (1983; 3rd edn, CUP 2009)

Tim Dolin and Peter Widdowson, Thomas Hardy and Contemporary Literary Studies (Palgrave 2004)

Ann Heilmann, New Woman Strategies: Sarah Grand, Olive Schreiner, Mona Caird (2004)

Phillip Mallett (ed.), Thomas Hardy in Context (CUP, 2013)

Rosemarie Morgan, The Ashgate Research Companion to Thomas Hardy (2010)

Angelique Richardson, ed., After Darwin: Animals, Emotions, and the Mind (Rodopi,  2013), 385 pp.

Angelique Richardson, Love and Eugenics in the Late Nineteenth Century: Rational Reproduction and the New Woman (OUP, 2003; paperback 2008)

Angelique Richardson and Chris Willis (eds.), The New Woman in Fiction and in Fact (Palgrave, 2002)

Keith Wilson (ed.), Blackwell Hardy Companion (Blackwell, 2009)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources



ELE – A selection of primary and contextual readings will be made available on ELE.


College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Special collections

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

English, literature, culture, novels, short stories, poetry, Victorian, Hardy, women, modernity