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‘A mere daughter of the soil’: Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Censorship, and Modernism

Wednesday 11 November 2020, 4.30PM

Speaker(s): Dr Katherine Mullin

This paper considers Tess of the d’Urbervilles as an experimental response to the suppression of the English translation of Zola’s La Terre in 1889. Hardy’s negotiations with the cultural inhibitions that the Zola trials supposedly imposed on English fiction were complex, subversive, and unexpected. The threat of censorship was, despite Hardy’s public protests, no real hindrance to creative experiment. Instead, it motivated and facilitated modes of literary innovation that anticipated and shaped modernism.

Dr Katherine Mullin is Senior Lecturer in Modern Literature at the University of Leeds, and the author of James Joyce, Sexuality and Social Purity (Cambridge University Press, 2003) and Working Girls: Fiction, Sexuality, and Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2016). She is currently completing her third book, provisionally titled Provocateurs, a literary and cultural history of the myth of Victorian censorship and its modernist exploitation. 


Location: By Zoom