CFP: “Hardy and Heritage” Conference

International Conference


27-28 October 2023

37 boulevard Jourdan
75014 Paris

Full programme available here

This international conference aims to examine notions of heritage and legacy in Thomas Hardy’s writings, career and influence.
Part of the conference will focus in particular on the links between Hardy and D.H. Lawrence.

Guest speakers:
Prof. Angelique Richardson, Centre for Victorian Studies, University of Exeter – Project Lead of the Hardy’s Correspondents Project (launched in 2019)
Prof. Kester Rattenbury, architectural teacher, critic, writer and academic – author of The Wessex Project: Thomas Hardy, Architect (Lund Humphries, 2018)
Harriet Still, exhibition curator and building historian – curator of the Hardy’s Wessex exhibition (Wessex Museums, 2022)

A conference organised by FATHOM, the French Association for Thomas Hardy studies, with support from CY Cergy Paris University (UMR 9022 “Héritage”), Sorbonne Nouvelle University (PRISMES EA 4398) and Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 University (EMMA research team)

From the antiquary’s fortuitous discovery of Tess’s prestigious ancestors to the complex trans-generational transmission process in The Well Beloved, questions of genealogy, filiation, and transmission appear in all of Thomas Hardy’s novels, whether from a genetic, material, financial or even purely legal perspective (through the transmission of money, objects, property or values, as well as misappropriation, dispossession etc.). Traces of the past – whether historical, familial or even personal – run deep in the novels’ diegesis, raising questions of inheritance, legitimate or illegitimate transmission and continuity as well as historical ruptures.

Heritage-making, or “heritagization”, is both a symbolic and very concrete process. One may think of how, with Wessex, Hardy created his own spatial and architectural heritage, kept a record of the local dialect (both following in William Barnes’s footsteps and breaking away from him) and mapped its territory through an interplay of tradition and transposed reality, both giving new importance to historical sites and integrating them into his own fictional geography (e.g. Stonehenge).

The real-life places themselves have retained the trace of Hardy’s fictional geography, as evidenced by another level of heritagization which can be seen in the craze for literary tourism around Hardy’s Wessex, in the upgrading of Hardy’s birth cottage thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund award about ten years ago, or else in the English Heritage blue plaque scheme. Worth noting is the impact of cultural heritage policies on Hardy’s literary heritage, as is the role of the National Trust and of other local cultural endeavours such as exhibitions, monuments and statues, commemorations and anniversaries. Such strategies of appropriation and re-appropriation of the author as a national figure have been successful in creating an official Hardyan literary heritage, in particular thanks to the dissemination and study of Hardy’s works both locally and nationally.

Understanding Hardy’s heritage also implies considering the context of Victorian publishing history which presided over the publication of his writings (e.g. the role of Leslie Stephen and the Cornhill Magazine) and how Hardy’s own works were often composed as palimpsests intended to circumvent censorship.

Equally important is the examination of how Hardy designed his own heritage, intent on entering literary history as he recorded his own personal (his)story for posterity by writing his (auto)biography while attributing its authorship to his second wife. The digitization of Hardy’s correspondence is precisely at the heart of the Hardy’s Correspondents Project currently underway in England in partnership with the Dorset History Centre and Dorset Museum. Last but not least, what may be considered as central to the question of heritage is also the reception of Hardy’s writings, first of all in his own lifetime, then by later readers as his works were re-written, adapted and celebrated by others. Among the novelists and poets most centrally influenced by Hardy is D. H. Lawrence, whose “Study of Thomas Hardy” (1936) was written as a thorough critique of his predecessor’s oeuvre. As it turned out, the posthumously published essay became one of the most fundamental pieces in Lawrence’s philosophy, a proper reflection on his art and, in his own words, “a sort of Confessions of [his] Heart” (letter to Amy Lowell, Nov 1914; Lawrence xxiii). To this day, the piece, which constitutes a literary bridge from Hardy’s art to Lawrence’s heart, serves as a testimony of the younger author’s deep respect for a writer who both influenced his fiction and inspired him to find his own path. The connection between the two authors is therefore well-known and quite often mentioned in passing in essays dedicated to the study of one or the other. However, the specificities that characterise this particular literary (af)filiation, as well as the links between Hardy and other writers, are yet to be explored. Is there any proper Hardyan heritage in Lawrence’s writing, or in the works of other authors from the 20th and 21st centuries, and if so, which particular aspects of these writings can demonstrate such a heritage?

Suggested topics for this conference:

  • Transmission (vs acquisition), heritage, inheritance, succession, social reproduction, patrimonial / matrimonial strategies, dispossession, misappropriation, squandering
  • Family history, filiation, descent, pedigree, family ties, inter-generational transfers, genealogy, genetics, heredity
  • Primitivism, evolution, Darwinism
  • Cultural memory, memorial undertakings, writing and reinterpreting history, prehistory / archaeology / traces of ancient civilisations, relics and remains
  • Historical heritage, restoration /preservation, literary tourism
  • Cultural institutions, archives, museums, monuments, commemorations, celebrations
  • Publishing history, editorial lines, reeditions, dissemination and transmission of writings
  • (Auto)biography, correspondence, notebooks (dissemination and transmission)
  • Authorship, textual and intermedial adaptations, literary tributes, celebrations
  • Influences (e.g. influence of the Romantics; influence on other writers)

Suggested topics for proposals on Hardy and D. H. Lawrence:

  • Hardy, Lawrence and the Romantics
  • Traces of Past Civilisations in Hardy and Lawrence
  • Heredity and Inheritance in Hardy and Lawrence
  • Victorian heritage in Lawrence’s writing
  • Heritage vs. acquisition in Hardy and Lawrence

Selected references
Apaydin, Veysel (ed.), Critical Perspectives on Cultural Memory and Heritage, UCL, 2020.
Beer, Gillian, Darwin’s Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (1983), 3rd ed., Cambridge UP, 2009.
Benton, Tim (ed.), Understanding Heritage and Memory, Manchester UP, 2010.
Bourdieu, Pierre & Jean-Claude Passeron, Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture, trans. R. Nice, 2nd ed., Sage Publications, 1990.
Beatty, C. J., Thomas Hardy’s Career in Architecture, Dorset Natural History & Archeological Society, 1978.
Bullen, J. B., Thomas Hardy: The World of his Novels, Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2013.
Casagrande, Peter J., Hardy’s Influence on the Modern Novel, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1987.
Cox, R. G. (ed.), Thomas Hardy: The Critical Heritage, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970. 
Hardy, Thomas, “Memories of Church Restoration”, in Michael Millgate (ed.), Thomas Hardy’s Public Voice: The Essays, Speeches, and Miscellaneous Prose. Oxford UP, 2001, 239–253.
Harrison, Rodney, Heritage: Critical Approaches, Routledge, 2012.
Lawrence, D. H., Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays, Cambridge UP, 2002.
Lea, Hermann, Hardy’s Wessex, Macmillan, 1913.
Lowenthal, David, The Past is a Foreign Country, Cambridge UP, 1985.
Mallett, Phillip, “Hardy and the Biographers”, in Rosemarie Morgan (ed.), Ashgate Companion to Thomas Hardy, 2010, 565–583.
Mayr, Ernst, The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution and Inheritance, Harvard UP, 1982.
Meloni, Maurizio, Political Biology: Science and Social Values in Human Heredity from Eugenics to Epigenetics, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
Müller-Wille, Staffan and Christina Brandt (eds), Heredity Explored: Between Public Domain and Experimental Science, 1850–1930, MIT Press, 2016.
Nora, Pierre (ed.), Realms of Memory: Conflicts and Divisions, trans. L. D. Kritzman, Columbia UP, 1996. 
Rattenbury, Kester, The Wessex Project: Thomas Hardy, Architect, Lund Humphries, 2018.
Richardson, Angelique, “Heredity”, in Phillip Mallett (ed.), Thomas Hardy in Context, Cambridge UP, 2013, 328–338.
Ricœur, Paul, Memory, History, Forgetting, trans. K. Blamey & D. Pellauer, Chicago UP, 2004.
Sanders, Andrew, In the Olden Time: Victorians and the British Past, Yale UP, 2013.
Smith, Laurajane, Uses of Heritage, Routledge, 2007.
Sumner, Rosemary, A Route to Modernism: Hardy, Lawrence, Woolf, Macmillan, 2000.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations in English. Selected proceedings from the conference will be published in the FATHOM journal.
Please send proposals (max. 500 words) along with a brief bio/bibliographical note (max. 500 words) to Laurence Estanove by 16 July 2023. Authors will be notified by the end of July.

Organising committee:
Dr Peggy Blin-Cordon, CY Cergy Paris Université 
Prof. Isabelle Gadoin, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
Marie Bertrand, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3
Dr Fiona Fleming, Université Paris Nanterre
Dr Laurence Estanove, University of Strathclyde

Event name: Hardy and Heritage
Dates: 26-28 October 2023
Venue: Fondation Deutsch de la Meurthe, Paris
Language: English
New deadline for submitting proposals: 16 July 2023
Notification of acceptance: 31 July 2023