Darkest Wessex by Dr Tracy Hayes
Category: Arts, Culture
Start Date: 07/04/2020 19:30
End Date: 07/04/2020 21:00
Location: Dorset History Centre, Bridport Road, Dorchester
Booking Essential: No
Description: Darkest Wessex: Hardy and the Gothic Short Story by Dr Tracy Hayes, Secretary of The Thomas Hardy Society
In a number of his short stories Thomas Hardy adopted the themes and signifiers of Gothic in order to explore social and psycho-sexual constructions of Victorian masculinity. Hardy is generally recognized as an excellent delineator of the female, his intuitive understanding of the psychological complexities of women such as Tess Durbeyfield and Sue Bridehead being emphasized at the expense of his male characters who are often viewed as weak and two-dimensional.
But Hardy frequently examines men in light of their ambitions, sensitivities, hypocrisies and social expectations, giving voice to discursive categories of maleness often elided in the work of his contemporaries. In 'The Withered Arm' (1888) he represents an instance of esoteric masculinity in the person of Conjuror Trendle, who is not derided but indeed revered due to his lack of ostentation and his refusal to take payment for his services. 'Barbara of the House of Grebe' (1890) is undoubtedly Hardy's most Gothic short story, exploring the dark recesses of psycho-sexuality and how a sociopathic male causes a massive psychological schism in his wife. In The Fiddler of the Reels' (1893), arguably Hardy's most critically discussed short story, a man who is not provided with a single word of dialogue yet dominates the narrative, exploits music and dance as forms of physical and mental torture.
Tracy Hayes is the Secretary of the Thomas Hardy Society and a Director of The Thomas Hardy Association. She received her PhD in 2017 for a thesis investigating masculinity in Hardy's novels, and her new research project involves representations of Gothic masculinity in the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas Hardy, and M.R. James.
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