All entries for Monday 25 February 2013
February 25, 2013
This is quite an old Radio 4 discussion from 2003 about Jude the Obscure and the university system, but nonetheless raises some interesting and pertinent issues about the novel in the context of our focus on Culture and Change, and on the idea of the University more broadly.
The programme explores the historical context around university admissions and the cost of education, and uses this to explore the more recent debates about university tuition fees. The first part focuses on university admissions, and looks at a "real-life" Jude, Ernest Barker, the son of a farmer, who was successful in obtaining a place at Oxford and went on to become a very successful figure. The second part looks at the financial cost of education, whilst part 3 focuses on contemporary issues around university tuition fees (back in 2003 discussions about the change to university tuition fees were just getting started with moves towards the £3000/year rate being planned).
In addition to the preparation questions I suggested, you might also want to think about the relevance of Jude today and the various questions it raises around university education as part of its wider debates around "culture".
Questions to prepare for the seminar on Jude the Obscure:
"You must either make a tool of the creature of a man of him" (Ruskin); "Culture has one great passion, the passion for sweetness and light. It has one even yet greater! - the passion for making them prevail. It is not satisfied till we all come to a perfect man; it knows that the sweetness and light of the few must be imperfect until the raw and unkindled masses of humanity are touched with sweetness and light" (Arnold); How does Jude respond to the ideas about culture set out by Ruskin and Arnold?
"I am not aware that there is anything in the handling to which exception can be taken"; why do you think Jude was shocking to contemporary readers? What remains shocking about it today?
Hardy addresses similar questions around marriage and the sexual double standard that we encountered in Tess of the D'urbervilles; what similarities and differences can you discern here?