and my capstone seminar on Virginia Woolf (Fall 2010),
this blog also contains an account of our Woolf trip in May 2012
as well as posts about flowers and gardens in the life and work of Virginia Woolf.
*Photo of Monk's House Garden taken from door of Woolf's bedroom*
Friday, August 27, 2010
• You may want to start out by reading Woolf’s manifesto for the new form of writing she is trying to invent: “Modern Fiction.” Slightly revised from an essay called “Modern Novels” published in 1919 -- around the time she was writing “Mark on the Wall” (1917) and “Kew Gardens” (1919) -- this is Woolf’s best known and most often-quoted essay. You want to look for what she is attacking in the previous generation of writers and what she wants to see in the new writing. (make lists)
• Then think about how “Mark” and “Kew” embody these ideas.
• Jane Goldman has a brief section on “Modern Fiction” in her book (103-6), and Mark Hussey has a page-long entry on it in his A to Z (on reserve).
THE SHORT STORIES
• As you read the short stories, be thinking about “A Sketch of the Past.” What structures/ ways of writing do these works have in common? Can you begin to articulate a sense of Woolf’s characteristic style? How does she think? And how is that revealed in the way she organizes or structures her stories? Also be alert for common themes and images. Twenty+ years separate these short stories from her memoir. Are there issues which she seems to be concerned with across that arc of time?
• There are several overviews about the short stories available:
o Goldman, Cambridge Intro, pp. 87-92 (R) REQUIRED
o Sandra Kemp’s Introduction to the selected short stories for Penguin (BB)
o Baldwin, Dean. “Bold Experiments” 13-26 in Virginia Woolf: A Study of the Short Fiction (1989) (BB)
o I personally favor A. Fleishman’s “Forms of the Woolfian Short Story” (1980) which posits 2 different forms for the stories: linear and circular (though we can argue quite a bit over which stories are which). (BB)
o Dick, Susan."Chasms in the Continuity of Our Way: Jacob's Room."Chapter Two of Virginia Woolf. London & New York: Edward Arnold, 1989. (R) Connects the early short stories up to the method and themes of Jacob’s Room.
“A MARK ON THE WALL”
• On first reading, this story appears to be quite random and chaotic. Just read it a couple of times, letting the images sink in. Then I would advise going through and trying to make your own outline of what each paragraph is about.
• Can you see any turning points in the story? Can you clump any paragraphs into groups?
• What seem to be the repeated images and concerns? ( Repetition is the key to meaning)
• What is the story “about”?
• Use the same reading process with “Kew.” Notice the various characters in the story and how the narration/ point of view shifts among them. Is there any pattern here?
• I will be posting some materials on Woolf and the Visual Arts on the Criticism Folder on Blackboard. Many people see these experimental short stories as Woolf’s reaction to the new theories about modern art that she was discussing with the circle of artists and art critics to which her sister, Vanessa Bell belonged. Both Clive Bell and Roger Fry were important definers and what the new modern art was about, and in many ways what Woolf is trying to do is find a way to adapt these ideas to fiction.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
-->Text itself (Not just what it tells her about her life, though that is important)
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Briggs, Julia . Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life. London: Penguin[Allen Lane] 2005.
PR6045.O72 Z54359 2005
Caramagno, Thomas. The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic-Depressive Illness (1992)
PR6045.O72 Z566 1992
Dick, Susan. Virginia Woolf. Routledge, 1989.
PR6045.O72 Z617 1989
The complete shorter fiction of Virginia Woolf / edited by Susan Dick.
PR6045.O72 A6 1989
Fleishman, Avorm. Virginia Woolf: A Critical reading. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1975.
PR6045.O72 Z63 1975
Gillespie, Diane F. The Sisters' Arts : The Writing and Painting of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.
PR6045.O72 Z644 1991
Goldman, Jane. The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf. Cambridge UP, 2006.
PR6045.O72 Z647 2006
---. The Feminist Aesthetics of Virginia Woolf.
PR6045.O72 Z648 1998
Hussey, Mark. Virginia Woolf A To Z : A Comprehensive Reference for Students, Teachers, and Common Readers To Her Life, Work, and Critical Reception.
PR6045.O72 Z729 1995
Lee, Hermione. The Novels of Virginia Woolf. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1977.
PR6045.O72 Z774 1998
---. Virginia Woof.
PR6045.O72 Z774 1998
Moore, Madeline. The Short Season Between Two Silences: The Mystical and the Political in the Novels of Virginia Woolf. Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1984.
PR6045.O72 Z822 1984
Reed, Christopher. Bloomsbury Rooms : Modernism, Subculture, and Domesticity
NX543 .R44 2004
Zwerdling, Alex. Virginia Woolf and the Real World. Berkeley: U of CA P, 1986.
I’ve also compiled and sent in a very modest Reserve List for the class. (See below and on BB) Many of these books are explained in fuller detail in my previous entry. From what you said about your interests in class, I have some recommendations:
If you are interested in Woolf’s LIFE, I suggest first, Hermione Lee’s biography and second, Caramagno’s book, as I think it has the most balanced assessment of how her mental/ emotional states affected her work. I have been re-reading him and find his interpretations of her work consistently insightful and also often a helpful corrective to far-fetched Freudian interpretations. Quentin Bell’s classic biography has the merit of being written by someone who actually knew her –he was her nephew— but also the accompanying flaws of being written by someone who didn’t take her feminism or lesbianism or political beliefs seriously, and as a member of the family, was at pains to deny the existence of sexual abuse in her childhood.
For those of you interested in Woolf’s WRITING PROCESS, I highly recommend Julia Briggs’s book –you may want to buy it in paperback. It is an intellectual biography of the process of writing Woolf’s major texts. Of course Woolf' diaries are the best way of getting to know her life and work, but I suspect that at 5 vols. this is more than you want to take on during one semester. Leaska has some well chosen selections from the diaries in The Virginia Woolf Reader. And Leonard compiled a selection of passages particularly concerned with her writing into the book, A Writer’s Diary, available on Amazon.com for $5.95 plus shipping.
Zwerdling’s book is extremely helpful for HISTORICAL BACKGROUND. And Jane Goldman’s book on Woolf’s feminist aesthetics is very helpful for anyone interested in MODERNISM AND THE VISUAL ARTS. On this topic, see also, Chris Reed’s brilliant study of the politics of interior decoration styles in Bloomsbury Rooms. I assign his first chapter as the introductory reading assignment in my Modernist London Seminar because it so clearly lays out the battle lines btw what he calls the “domestic” aesthetic of Bloomsbury, and the “heroic”/ somewhat fascist brand of Modernism favored by Eliot, Pound, and Wyndham Lewis. And the locus classicus for all work on Woolf and the visual arts is Diane Gillespie’s book, The Sisters’ Arts, which explores Virginia’s relation to her sister Vanessa’s painting and Vanessa’s reactions to her sister Virginia’s writing.
For those of you interested in WOOLF AND FILM, I recommend that you do an MLA search for the work of Leslie Hankins, who has for many years been building up a careful and detailed study of Woolf’s exposure and reaction to modern British cinema, as well as Laura Marcus’s book, The Tenth Muse and Maggie Humm’s Modernist Women and Visual Cultures.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
As always, I loved listening to Cecil Woolf’s memories of Leonard and Virginia—I never get tired of the authenticity and humane humor of his stories.
Saturday morning I was intrigued by Kathryn Simpson’s reading of “Lappin and Lappinova” as a counterpart to Three Guineas. Erin Penner did a nice job of reading the short stories back into our understanding of nature in Mrs. Dalloway. And Catherine Hollis’s discussion of mountaineering images in Woolf made me glad I’d bought her new volume in the Bloomsbury Heritage series.
After quite a lively end to the evening downtown at a local pub where we pulled, I think, 5 tables into a long L of babbling Woolfians, I was reluctant to pull myself out of bed for the 8:30 AM sessions on Sunday. But I was rewarded by a lively exchange on “Animals, Social Deviance, and Evolution” in which Elizabeth Mills and Sarah Henning -Stout made me think much more coherently about birds on Woolf, and Jeannie Dubino taught me to read Flush with a serious attention to the heritage of Spaniels.
Diana Swanson’s concluding plenary in the art gallery gave us all another chance to look at the show collected for the conference, without the distraction of food, and was the perfect ending to the conference, reminding us of the ways in which teaching Woolf can be part of a larger effort to help restore balance between the human and natural world.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I hope you are all having a great summer! I certainly am. Just got back from the 20th annual international conference on Virginia Woolf. If you want some gossip about what Woolf scholars are doing, and pictures of them, you might be interested in Paula Maggio’s blog: http://bloggingwoolf.wordpress.com/ Vara Neverow has posted a blog about the conference as well: http://vneverow.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/just-back-from-the-woolf-conference-in-kentucky/
I write also to tell you about a book I recently really enjoyed reading which I wanted to recommend to you if you are looking around for something not too heavy but thought-provoking to read. It’s PROUST WAS A NEUROSCIENTIST BY Jonah Lehrer. It’s about how artists have discovered things about the structure of the human mind and perceptions that scientists are only now beginning to confirm. Here's the Amazon Link
He starts out with a chapter on Walt Whitman and the mind/body connection; then moves on the George Eliot and Darwin, covering most of the senses with chapters on taste and the father of French cooking, sight and Cezanne, and music and Stravinsky . The chapter on Proust is about memory of course, and the book ends with language and Gertrude Stein and consciousness and Virginia Woolf. Aside from just being interesting to anyone who is a thinking human, the book also ends up being quite a refreshing introduction to a lot of the basic ideas of modernism, and I think would serve as a good background to reading Woolf in the fall.
Hope you all are looking forward to the seminar as much as I am.
See you in August.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tentative Syllabus for Virginia Woolf Seminar
1. Th, Aug 19 : Course Intro
2. T, Aug 24: Resources, References, Libraries, Journals, etc. Biographical PPT.
3. Th, Aug 26: “A Sketch of the Past” (1939) (VWR)
4. T, Aug 31: “The Mark on the Wall” (1917) (VWR)
5. Th, Sep 2: “Kew Gardens” (1919) (VWR)
6. T, Sep 7: Jacob’s Room (1922)
7. Th, Sep 9: Jacob’s Room
8. T, Sep 14: Early Essays: “Modern Fiction” (1919; 1925) (VWR), “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown” (1923) (VWR); “Lives of the Obscure: Miss Ormerod” (1924); “On Not Knowing Greek “(1925) (VWR) ; “Jane Austen” (1925) (VWR)
9. Th, Sep 16: T, Sep 21: Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
10. Th, Sep 23: Mrs Dalloway
11. T, Sep 28: To the Lighthouse (1927)
12. Th, Sep 30: To the Lighthouse
13. T, Oct 5: To the Lighthouse
14. Th, Oct 7: Orlando (1928)
15. T, Oct 12: Orlando
16. Th, Oct 14: Middle Essays: “How Should One Read a Book?” (1926) (VWR); “Street Haunting” (1927) (VWR); “On Being Ill” (1930) (VWR); “Memories of a Working Women’s Guild” (1930); “Professions for Women” (1931) (VWR)
17. T, Oct 19: A Room on One’s Own (1929)
18. Th, Oct 21: A Room of One’s Own
19. T, Oct 26: The Waves (1931)
20. Th, Oct 28: The Waves
21. Th, Nov 4: The Waves
22. T, Nov 9: Late Short Stories and Essays: “Walter Sickert: A Conversation” (1934); “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid” (1941); “Death of the Moth” (p.h.)
23. Th, Nov 11: Three Guineas (1938)
24. T, Nov 16: Three Guineas
25. Th, Nov 18: Between the Acts (1941)
26. T, Nov 23: Between the Acts
27. T, Nov 30: Late Short Stories: “Lappin and Lappinova” (1938) (VWR); “The Searchlight” (1929,39,p.h.); “The Legacy” (1940)
28. Th, Dec 2: Wrap-up
WOOLF MINI-CONFERENCE: Students present final projects during scheduled exam time
REQUIRED (IN ORDER OF USE)
· The Virginia Woolf Reader (Paperback) Mitchell A Leaska (Editor) Mariner Books ISBN-10: 0156935902 $14.53
· Jacob's Room (Harcourt; Mariner. New Annotated edition, ed. Vara Neverow) ISBN-10: 0156034794. $12.75
· Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (Harcourt; Mariner. New, Annotated Edition, ed. Bonnie Kime Scott) ISBN-10: 0156030357 $10.20
· Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse. (Harcourt; Mariner.. New Annotated Version. Ed. Mark Hussey) ISBN-10: 0156030470 $10.50
· Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own. (Harcourt; Mariner. New Annotated version, ed. Susan Gubar) ISBN-10: 0156030411 $10.20
· Virginia Woolf, Orlando (Harcourt; Mariner. New Annotated edition, ed.Maria DiBattissta) $10.20 ISBN-10: 0156031515
· The Waves (Harcourt; Mariner. New Annotated edition, ed.Molly Hite )$10.20ISBN-10: 0156031574
· Three Guineas (Harcourt; Mariner. New Annotated edition, ed., ed. Jane Marcus) $10.55 ISBN-10: 0156031639
· Between the Acts (Harcourt, New Annotated version. Ed. Melba Cuddy-Keane) ISBN-10: 0156034735 $10.20
Goldman, Jane. The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf . Cambridge University Press (October 9, 2006)
Lee, Hermione. Virginia Woolf. Vintage (October 5, 1999) ISBN-10: 0375701362 $14.96
Virginia Woolf A to Z: A Comprehensive Reference for Students, Teachers, and Common Readers to Her Life, Work, and Critical Reception (Literary a to Z's) by Mark Hussey (Paperback - Nov. 21, 1996) 25 used from $4.00
Dear member of the Woolf-pack—
You’ve signed up for the senior capstone seminar on Virginia Woolf in the Fall. I am writing you to tell you a little bit about the class, so you can –if you want; this isn’t a requirement—get a bit of a head start over the summer.
Attached you’ll find a tentative syllabus. I am pretty sure about all the books we are reading. I’m also attaching a list of preferred editions for the class. I know a lot of you may already have copies of some of Woolf’s work and it’s okay to use those, but I’d really rather, whenever possible, you use the new annotated editions from Harcourt Brace. (The entire series is edited by Mark Hussey.) Not only are these definitive texts, they also contain excellent, very up-to-date Introductions, and annotations of all the historical, literary, political, artistic allusions you might otherwise miss. They are cheap, costing about $10-12 each, and the more of you have these texts, the easier it will be to be “on the same page” in class.
We are reading a total of eight books by Woolf, six novels and two book-length essays, all of which are available in this annotated format. In addition we will be reading a selection of other essays and short stories. The majority of these are conveniently collected in The Virginia Woolf Reader, ed. by Leaska, which you really do need to buy. (On the syllabus, the stuff highlighted in yellow is what is not in Leaska, which I need to remember to find on-line or post on BB)
If you want to go the whole hog/ total immersion route, I’ suggest Hermione Lee’s magisterial, definitive biography. It’s very long and probably more than you’d ever want to know, but it’s awfully good. I am re-reading it right now and am amazed at how she manages to weave in every single important passage from the diaries and letters etc. It has lovely chapters on Woolf’s relationships with other important Modernists such as Katherine Mansfield and T.S. Eliot.
I haven’t yet decided exactly what the course assignments will be. I know you’ll have a final seminar paper (8-12 pp), a shortened version of which you’ll deliver at a class mini-conference during our regular final exam slot. I also think I’ll ask you to do a page per class day in a blog, so that I can see you are doing the reading, and so you have a chance to write about what interests you. I’d also like to assign a visual journal/altered book, a more visually creative kind of reading journal that’s been very successful in the past. I’m still trying to decide how to introduce some requirement for you to occasionally read a critical essay or two. And I’d like to be giving you some sustained feedback on your writing. However, I want the main focus of the seminar to be READING and discussing Woolf, so I am trying to find ways to make sure there aren’t too many assignments.
I’m really looking forward to teaching this class. It’s the first time I’ve been able to teach a whole course on Virginia Woolf. I’m currently working on a book about parks, gardens, and flowers in Woolf’s life and work and will probably be blogging along with you on my own Woolf track.