'The Road Less Travelled': Out with the New, in with the Old? Thomas Hardy in the News

By Blake, Julie | NATE Classroom, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

'The Road Less Travelled': Out with the New, in with the Old? Thomas Hardy in the News


Blake, Julie, NATE Classroom


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Perhaps it is inevitable in the early years of a new millennium that polite public discourse is filled with talk of epochs and ages, and accounts of late twentieth century decades that history has caught up with. In the world of ICT, it is out with the age of print and in with the digital era. And in schools of all sizes, shapes and kinds, we are just beginning to understand some of the implications this might have for teaching and learning.

One of these implications is that the use of ICT in the classroom changes space, time and regulative authority. Where time is concerned, instantaneous communication via email, webcam or online chat creates many new opportunities for the kinds of here-and-now learning that students are familiar with and enjoy in their out-of-school digital lives. We can tap into that as we find useful, engaging students in opportunities that arise to email questions or comment on blogposts by scientists, adventurers, journalists and poets, or to watch live webcam streaming of African water-holes and New York streets. It is a marvel that we can do these things, but one of the downsides for teachers is the way this kind of multimodal 'breaking news' experience can over-value the immediate, rendering anything old or in books as, ipso facto, insufferably dull.

Take Thomas Hardy as an example. His novels and poetry are amongst the most widely specified texts in the school English curriculum, 'classics' reinterpreted by succeeding generations in literary criticism, film and stage adaptation. Teachers, librarians, government curriculum authorities and parents might all regard the study of such a writer an important part of a young person's cultural formation, but given the expectation of immediacy and the more visually dynamic demands on a young person's attention in a digital age, how do we get beyond mere dutiful submission to the requirements of external assessment, and into the kinds of personal engagement with the text that might instead fuel them for a richer experience of life?

One way that we can start to bridge between these diverging interests is to draw on that enthusiasm for the here-and-now, but to shift it back in time. Digital newspaper archives provide exactly this kind of time travel. We might be looking at a block of plain text, written in the more elaborate journalistic style of the 18th or 19th centuries, about people long gone and events almost forgotten, but there is something very special about seeing this in a digital approximation of the way it appeared in its own day, in facsimile, and in a form--the newspaper--that we more usually treat as ephemeral. In the case of Thomas Hardy, or any other writer, he was not always 'Thomas Hardy the Great Writer'. His reputation was something worked at and contested, his novels advertised not as classics but as new books that might or might not succeed, and reviews in his own lifetime new knowledge not received wisdom.

Exploring The Times archive, we see Thomas Hardy in his own time, and his work as judged in relation to contemporaneous literary and moral values. Below is an excerpt from a review of Hardy's last novel, Jude The Obscure. Dated December 18, 1895, it is a pungent critique by one of the many critics who objected to it on moral grounds, including a bishop who publicly burned it.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

To read in an authoritative national newspaper the words ' "Jude the Obscure" is, to speak plainly, a somewhat dull novel' can be a revelation to students, a liberating path to finding their own critical voices. It might also come as a surprise to students that reviews of this apparently ephemeral kind might make a difference to the course of literary history: Hardy claimed that the negative reviews he received for Jude the Obscure led him, at least in part, to abandon the writing of fiction.

What we also see here, side by side, is a list of donations to a poor-box and an account of a bankruptcy hearing for The Turner Pneumatic Tyre Company (Limited), both helping to embody Hardy and his work in an everyday world students can find points of connection with, rather than asking them to leap straight up into the rarefied air of Eng Lit, the academic subject. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

'The Road Less Travelled': Out with the New, in with the Old? Thomas Hardy in the News
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.