Thursday 8th March 2018
From 19:00 until 21:00
Venue: Dorset County Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1XA
Literary Lives: Hardy’s Schoolrooms
Dr Jonathan Godshaw Memel
The final decades of the nineteenth century saw an extraordinary growth in school building that in 1874 was said to ‘mark the great change which is coming over the education of the country’. This talk will reveal Thomas Hardy’s significant involvement in this bold movement in school design.
In the early 1870s he drew on his experience as a West Country draughtsman to help design some of the characteristic red-brick board schools that remain standing in London today. These schools provided Hardy with practical as well as sentimental insight into the architecture of education and inspired his lifelong interest in the ‘human associations’ of buildings. Drawing on a range of texts from Jude the Obscure (1895) to ‘He Revisits his First School’ (1917), this talk will explore how hopes of individual and social transformation were built into Hardy’s literary and architectural treatment of school buildings.
Dr Jonathan Godshaw Memel recently completed a Great Western Research/National Trust-funded PhD project at the University of Exeter on the role of education in Thomas Hardy’s writing. His work has appeared in The Hardy Review, The Conversation and Neo-Victorian Studies. An AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellowship supported the early stages of his current project, ‘Teaching Subjects’, which investigates how the viewpoint of the child came to occupy both literary and educational thinking in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He is currently a research assistant at Exeter on the COVE project, an online research resource in nineteenth-century studies that involves universities across the U.S. and U.K.
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