Thomas Hardy: The Return of the Native and the poetry of a Habitat Revisited

Course Dates: 14/02/18 - 14/03/18
Time: 12:45 - 14:45
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Hugh Epstein

We will study Hardy’s atmospheric and moody 1878 novel of belonging and alienation, with its tempestuous heroine Eustacia Vye, and troubled ‘modern’ hero Clym Yeobright, interspersed with related Hardy poems that revisit love and locality.


What is the course about?

This course is about appreciating the fabric and texture of a novel made up so powerfully from the sense of what inhabiting one place feels like. As well as the very material presence of Egdon Heath, we will become engaged with the emotions that arise from living in this remoteness, the strong feelings that connect and disastrously divide people. Our wider considerations are likely to include ideas about departure and return, migration and ambition. This is a course focused upon Hardy’s evocative writing, and we will trace his power to summon up in his poetry as well feelings of love, attachment and detachment that are associated with the idea of a habitat.

What will we cover?

We will spend the whole five weeks on The Return of the Native, but each week we will also read and discuss two or three poems, drawn from Hardy’s earliest writing of 1860 up to poems written shortly before his death in 1928.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Appreciate in depth the structure and the art of a single large novel
Appreciate contrasting poetic forms and effects drawn from a range of differing poems
Enjoy an enhanced sense of the creation of place and atmosphere in both fiction and poetry.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No specialist knowledge is required, and there will be no assumptions made about how much acquaintance you may, or may not, already have with Hardy’s novels and poems. The only requirements are a desire to engage with the novel and the poems, and a willingness to contribute to discussion and to listen to others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The aim is to develop enjoyment in close reading. Tutor-led discussion, small-group and whole-group discussion will be the practice of each of the sessions. How much of the novel to read in preparation for each class will be clearly indicated beforehand.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need to have a copy of The Return of the Native. The Oxford World’s Classics Edition (2008), edited by Simon Gatrell, introduction by Margaret Higonnet, is preferable, as it is the one I will be working from.

Copies of the poems will be provided each week.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other literature courses under History, Culture and Writing at

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: HLT161

Wed, day, 14 Feb - 14 Mar '18

Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)

Full fee: £99.00
Senior fee: £79.00
Concession: £44.00
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Or call to enrol: 222-66-889-99

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Please note: Different fees may apply for international students. Read full guidance.