Rena Jackson

Thesis title

'Class and Empire in the Prose Works of Thomas Hardy' (provisional)


My research identifies a shift in Thomas Hardy's prose works from elite- to labour-focused conceptions of empire. Whereas in the early fiction (1871-1882), India and Africa are favoured destinations for overseas movement, in later works (1886-1897), Canada and Australia become principal outposts for Wessex migrants. Furthermore, while motives for travel to the colonies in works of the first decade include aspirations to fame and quick fortune, the ‘push’ factors for migration in later works generally include rural poverty and dispossession. The project explores this shift via a cultural materialist approach to imperial circuits in Hardy's prose works, with attention to the movement of people, goods and capital. The main purpose of the dissertation is to challenge the cardinal assumption within Postcolonial Studies that Britain's peripheries and lower classes were harmonised into a national imperial identity.

I have given papers at Sheffield, Yale, Dorchester, Hawarden and Manchester.

Journal articles

  • 'India and Social Mobility in Hardy's Early Fiction', Thomas Hardy Journal (2014)
  • 'Hybridity and Migrancy in Jude the Obscure', Thomas Hardy Journal (2009)

Book chapters

  •  (with Jane Bownas) 'Empire', in Thomas Hardy in Context, ed. Phillip Mallett (CUP, 2013)

I have published book reviews with the Journal of Postcolonial Writing and the Thomas Hardy Journal.

Other interests

Contact details