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Feminist Essays On Virginia Woolf

RATIONALE

One purpose of this topic is to demonstrate that, contrary to a supposition that reigned for many decades, Woolf is a central figure in modern literature. Arguably, she synthesizes "modern concerns" with greater integrity than do Conrad, Eliot, Joyce, and Lawrence. The emphasis of this topic is not on glib comparisons between this author's work and that of other modernists, but on close scrutiny of her individual novels and essays. It is by establishing the depth and subtlety of her handling of such issues as perspective, gender relations, character portrayal, and the self-conscious role of the artist that we can come to appreciate the significance of Woolf's contribution to our understanding of modernism. Relevant questions include:

— What is Woolf's formal and moral agenda with respect to modernism and fiction?

— How does Woolf handle time, perspective, and the constraints of narrative (in comparison, for instance, with the approaches of her contemporaries and predecessors)?

— Woolf and feminism: In what sense and to what ends does Woolf address the nature of gender relations and the role of gender in fiction, culture, and history?

— In Woolf's fiction, what is the relation between character portrayal and the self-conscious concerns of the novelist as artist?

— What do we stand to gain by viewing Woolf's portrayal of human relations in an historical or biographical context?

— In what sense is Woolf as much a poet as a prose writer? How is her work related to that of Romantic (as well as Victorian and modem) poets?

PRIMARY READINGS

— A Room of One's Own
— A Writer's Diary
— Between the Acts
— The Common Reader
— Death of the Moth and Other Essays
— Mrs. Dalloway
— Mr. Dallowy's Party
— Moments of Being
— Orlando
— To the Lighthouse
— The Common Reader
— The Waves
— Three Guineas
— The Letters of Virginia Woolf (Six Volumes)
— The Diary of Virginia Woolf (Four Volumes)

SECONDARY READINGS

Batchelor, John
— Virginia Woolf: The Major Novels. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.
Boon, Kevin Alexander
— An Interpretive Reading of Virginia Woolf's The Waves. Queenston: Mellen Press, 1998.
Goldman, Jane, ed.
— To the Lighthouse and The Waves (essays and reviews) New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
Kumar, Shiv
— Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel. London: Blackie, 1962.
Hermione Lee
— The Novels of Virginia Woolf. London: Methuen & Co., 1977.
— Virginia Woolf. London: Methuen, 1977.
Jane Marcus, ed.
— New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981.
— The Common Reader. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1953
Ratavaara, Irma
— Virginia Woolf's The Waves. London: Kennikat. 1979.
Reid, Su, ed.
— Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse. London: Macmillan, 1993.
Eric Warner ed.
— Virginia Woolf: A Centenary Perspective. London: Macmillan, 1984.
John Burt
— "Irreconcilable Habits of Thought in A Room of One's Own and To the Lighthouse, "ELH 49, no. 4, 1982.
Jane Lilienfield
— "The Deceptiveness of Beauty': Mother Love and Mother Hate in To the Lighthouse," Twentieth Century Literature 23, no. 3, October 1977.
.Tori Moi
— "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Feminist Readings of Woolf" in Sexual/Textual Politics (London/NY: Routledge, 1985).
Showalter, Elaine
— "Virgiania Woolf and the Flight into Androgyny" in A Literature of Their Own (Princeton University Press, 1977).
Silver, Brenda R.
— "The Authority of Anger: Three Guineas as Case Study," Signs 6, no. 2, 1991.

 

attacked by the police. These disabuse of power undetermined the role of women as second class citizen and therefore created a public outrage.Virginia was stirred by this incident as well. Therefore, she joined the

“Adult Su

frage”; a moderate win

g of the movement. She never felt com-fortable with direct political action, but nevertheless wanted to contributeher personal opinion to the public discourse. Woolf, on the one hand wrotein favor of the movement, but on the other was concerned about the chang-

ing roles of sexes in society and therefore focused on „a more ge

neralized

sense of cultural crisis”

(Rosenman 8).Virginia

s first priority and main goal was that woman should obtainaccess to professions. In her essay

“A Room of One’s Own”, she

thereforedemands that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is towrite fiction

(Woolf 4). She thereby claims women

s right for basis condi-tions, like leisure time, privacy and financial independence, which would al-low them to unfold their intellectual potential. To stress that women do nothave the same possibilities to live out their intellectual freedom and createart, she implies a metaphor of Shakespeare

s fictional sister Judith; statingthat if Shakespeare would have had a sister with the same genius, she

would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in somelonely cottage

(Woolf 46-48).Furthermore, she aims at establishing a female tradition of writing, his-tory and literature, because she is convinced that literature

ought to have amother as well as a father 

(Woolf 103). Another main point in her essay isthat women possess a particular richness of language, which is more indi-rect, unconscious and softer than men

s (Habib 49).However, Virginia ironically dissociate

s herself from the word “fe

mi-

nist” in her essay

Three Guineas

, but in the face of war considers herself as becoming

„steadily more feminist, owing to the Times” (

Rosenman 9).Along

with A Room of One

’ 

 s Own

, the

Three Guineas

is considered Virgin-ia

s most influential work concerning feminism. Both essays were presentedat women

s colleges at Cambridge University (Habib 45).In

Three Guineas

she stresses the fact that women even if they have the possibil

ity to get a good education and thus an “entry into the professions”,

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