Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.249090
Title: Imaginative slaves : Thomas Hardy, social relations, and Victorian readers
Author: Farrelly, Carol M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3457 9848
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2002
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Abstract:
Imaginative Slaves explores the question of how Thomas Hardy imagined and addressed his contemporary readers. The representative or ideal reader sparked incessant conflict between all those who controlled the late-nineteenth-century reading industry. This thesis attempts to understand Hardy's imagined readers as constructs which he developed and shaped in largely antagonistic response to his culture's dominant conceptions of the reader, especially the oppressively pervasive conceptions held by publishers, editors, circulating libraries, and critics. All these conceptions tended to circle around the powerful reader of the day: the middle-class reader. Questions of class and gender, therefore, are particularly important to this thesis which very much grounds Hardy and his readers in their cultural, historical context. Hardy's unconventional, contentious attitudes towards his readers are considered as challenges to class and gender divisions, challenges, indeed, to the hardening Victorian social system. Hardy's novels, ultimately, question the belief that people are and should be members of narrowly defined, divisive social strata. Imaginative Slaves begins with a general discussion of Victorian reading culture, its structure, forms, ruling ideas, values, misconceptions, and anxieties. Moving on to consider perhaps the dominant conception of the reader, the Young Girl, it examines Hardy's struggles with this reader figure. Other important conceptions of the reader and reading are then tackled: the sensation reader and the working-class reader whose shadowy, threatening figure haunted and motivated many of the middle-class strictures placed on fiction such as Hardy's. The thesis ends with a consideration of both Hardy's legacy in the form of theatrical adaptations and the interpretive and social implications ofactual readers' theatrical reinvention of his novels. This thesis also implicitly questions recent critics' understandings of the popular or non-academic reader. Imaginonve Slaves, emulating Hardy, attempts to offer a rich, challenging, and socially grounded portrayal of readers which recognizes the potential power ofthe reader and the reading process
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.249090  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature Literature Mass media Performing arts Sociology Human services History
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