Intended primary for my Creative Inquiry on Woolf and Place (2012-2013)
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

Reading and Discussion Questions for Woolf's Early Short Stories


• 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).


• 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.


• 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

“ A Sketch of the Past” --Things to Think About

-->Pattern of Censorship: do you see a pattern in what Leaksa choose to exclude from the text? (Leaska is a traditional, old-fashioned Woolf scholar)
-->Text itself (Not just what it tells her about her life, though that is important)

  • Plot – What is the structure of this piece? Is there any?

  • How does she organize her thoughts? Do you see patterns of repetition, climax etc?

  • Is there any way this is structured like a novel? Or is it more like a poem?

  •  Character

  • Who are the most important people in her life? (we’ll need to think about to what degree they show up again in her novels)

  •   How does Woolf see character and the possibility of knowing character? How does she describe others?

  • How does Woolf present herself as a character? What are some of the characteristics of the autobiographical narrator?

  • Theme – Can we use “Sketch” as a way of beginning to identify the major themes/concerns in Woolf’s work? Start a list.

  •   Northrop Frye believes the thematic content of a work is often carried through is imagery. Do you find any repeated patterns of images in “Sketch”? What are these images about?

    • Saturday, August 21, 2010

      Reserve List

      Reserve List for English 496: Virginia Woolf (Fall 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.

      Reflections on Our First Day/ Reading Recommendations

      It was great to meet you all and get a bit of a sense of who you are. I am making a class directory which I will post on Blackboard under CLASS MATERIALS, making it easy for you to contact each other. Once you get yr blog up, I will sign on as a follower; that way I will be notified automatically whenever you put up a new entry. You might want to follow my blog as well.
      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 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

      Summertime and the Reading is Easy

      Partially in preparation for my Woolf Seminar and partly as deep background for the flower book, I am currently reading/re-reading  eight books on Virginia Woolf’s novels.  I am reading them piecemeal, in chronological order: Intros, sections on The Voyage Out, then sections on Night & Day etc.  It’s an interesting exercise because the eight books come from four different decades and represent a number of different perspectives on Woolf.  I chose these books partly because I think they are good and have offered/ will offer me insights; also because quite simply, they are organized with a chapter on each novel, and because I happen to have copies of most of them that I can mark up.  There are other books I could have/should have included, but I realized if I set myself the task of reading, say, twelve books, I would never get through them all in the course of the summer.
      ·         Fleishman, Avorm.  Virginia Woolf: A Critical Reading. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1975.
      I just happened to have a copy of Fleishman that I had picked up somewhere.  I remembered the really excellent essay he wrote on the structure of Woolf’s short stories, and then doing a search on Woolf and flowers on Amazon, I picked up a reference to a passage on flower symbolism that intrigued me.  Although Fleishman’s book is way old (in 1975, Quentin Bell’s biography had just been published and AF only had access to Woolf’s diaries and letters through Bell and the compilation of excerpts , A Writer’s Diary, that Leonard Woolf had published in 1953),  I still find it useful, perhaps because I share some of his critical antecedents, such as Northrop Frye.  Although the book is mostly a study of imagery, Fleishman has a good eye for structure and presents helpful analytical outlines of nearly every book.

      ·         Lee, Hermione.  The Novels of Virginia Woolf.  New York: Holmes and Meier, 1977.
      I picked Hermione Lee’s book because I respected the hard-nosed acumen of her magisterial biography of Woolf and was curious as to what she thought of the works, apart from the life.  Being published before the great waves of Woolf scholarship, the book is sometimes amusingly dismissive of aspects of Woolf’s work that have since been treated with great seriousness.  But I do admire her critique of the overly facile dichotmomizing of early Woolf criticism.  Like Fleishman, she has a rather formalist approach, focusing on how Woolf changes the structure of each novel to “match her vision of reality with its appropriate form” (14).

      ·         Moore, Madeline.  The Short Season Between Two Silences: The Mystical and the Political in the Novels of Virginia Woolf.  Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1984.
      This is one of the first books I read on Woolf, way back in 1993, when I was writing my initial paper on Woolf and Georgia O’Keeffe.  It had been useful to me then, and several people at this year’s Woolf conference quoted passages from it that I found intriguing, so I decided to revisit it. The central question of her work – how did VW “reconcile her materialist beliefs with her spiritual longings?”— combines aspects of both archetypal and social/historical criticism with a somewhat psychological emphasis on mystical elements in Woolf’s world view.

      ·         Zwerdling, Alex.   Virginia Woolf and the Real World.  Berkeley: U of CA P, 1986. 
      Zwerdling’s book was the first to thoroughly document the social and historical contexts of Woolf’s work and remains a vital and often-quoted source today.  I had read bits and pieces of it, and so liked the idea of actually reading it all the way through as a coherent argument.  Once I started to get into it, I particularly admired the way in which he managed to get beyond the simple dichotomies characteristic of early Woolf criticism and see the inextricable complexity with which Woolf’s inner and outer world interact with each other, how she challenges  “the familiar distinction between objective and subjective observation” (23) .

      ·         Dick, Susan.  Virginia Woolf. Routledge, 1989.
      Dick’s slim little volume was something I had picked up at a used bookstore somewhere.  I knew she had done the definitive edition of Woolf’s short fiction and had read the chapter on how the short stories of Monday or Tuesday related to Jacob’s Room.  Interested in how the importance and function of storytelling is revealed through individual characters, Dick analyses how the short fiction often tests out narrative strategies subsequently used in the novels.  Her explanation of how the rhythms of consciousness shape Woolf’s narratives is especially helpful.

      ·         Briggs, Julia .  Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life.  London: Penguin[Allen Lane] 2005.
      Re-reading Julia Briggs’ study of Woolf’s creative processes is a real labor of love.  I remember how excited I was to be able to get a copy in London several months before the book appeared in the US, going deep into the basement of  Foyles to get my reserved copy and having a long, enthusiastic conversation with the sales clerk, who was one of Jane Goldman’s graduate students and eager to talk Woolf with a fellow academic.  Briggs’ book is that rare synthesis which sees both the forest and the trees: it presents both the kind of general, structural pattern-recognition that only comes from  having read and thought about and connected everything in Woolf with wonderful nuggets of carefully researched information about obscure allusions.

      ·         deGay, Jane.  Virginia Woolf’s Novels and the Literary Past.  Edinburg UP, 2006,2007.
      I am reading this book because I am interested in Woolf’s relationship to her literary past, especially the Victorians.  DeGay’s book focuses on Woolf’s reading process, how she engages with texts and transforms them to fit her own historical contexts, and in the mechanisms of influence.

      ·         Goldman, Jane.  The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf.  Cambridge UP, 2006.
        After looking at all the available introductions to Woolf’s life and work, I decided that Jane’s was the best and so ordered it for the seminar.  Her elegant and concise summaries of the issues of each novel incorporate her established interests in modernism and Woolf’s engagement with the visual arts, and her critical references are impeccable.

      Friday, June 11, 2010

      Woolf and Nature: The 20th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf

      I just thought I’d add a few observations and images to Vara and Paula’s blogs on the Woolf conference recently held at Georgetown College in Kentucky.
           While this conference was small, it was very intimate and coherent.  You really got to see everyone and catch up, and almost all the sessions were directly on topic, so it was even more exhilarating than usual to be constantly connecting ideas.  There was a lot of quoting each other from session to session.
      I particularly enjoyed Judith Allen’s provocative talk the first day on wild grasses in Woolf, which gave me a lot to think about, especially that image of paving over the grasses with grey stone.  And I learned more than I may have really wanted to know about Rupert Brooke from Gill Lowe’s fascinating account of his wild swimming behavior.  Georgia Johnston, as always, really made me think differently – in this case about “Lappin and Lappinova.”  I really appreciated the thumbnail history of eco-criticism that Bonnie Kime Scott gave us, and like many appreciated the fact that she tried (as always) to be fully inclusive and remember back through ALL the mothers.  (Picture below, from left: Judith, Suzanne, Marty, Gill, and Kathryn)
           On Friday I went to some really stellar sessions. Of course I was partial to “Painting Woolf” since my friend Marty Epp-Carter was showing the results of a collaborative Clemson class on Graphic design—some stunning student books covers for “Kew Gardens.”  But Suzanne Bellamy’s meditation on climate change as a driver of identity transformation in Orlando gave me something new to think about.  As did Cara Lewis’s brilliant talk on the unframed paintings in To the Lighthouse—perhaps the single best talk of the whole conference as it gave me a significant new way to look at a novel that has already received a pretty comprehensive academic treatment.

           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.   

            But for me the highlight of Saturday evening was Suzanne’s tribute to Isota Tucker-Epes, the fascinating painter who became such an inspiring presence at a handful of memorable Woolf conferences. 
           Thanks to Isota’s generosity, Suzanne was able to show us slides of the complete series of ten paintings on Woolf as well as the paintings she and Isota did as projects for conferences—a catalogue raisonnĂ© that few of us had ever seen before.  Besides being a visual treat, the presentation reminded us of the bonds of friendship that are perhaps the most abiding reward of attending these annual conferences. The Image below is of a "Marriage of Opposites" a rare painting that few of us had ever seen (thanks to Suzanne for providing image)

            At the banquet I was much amused by the animated version of the Great Frost episode in Orlando—another treasure recovered by  the intrepid  archive-explorer Leslie Hankins. And like many I was delighted by the return of the Woolf Players.  These readings of Woolf’s own words often are a kind of high point in the conference for me, a reminder of why we are all here together.  Judith Allen began the reading with an excerpt from a lovely article about reading aloud which you can read here.  (Photo to the right is Jean Moorcroft Wilson Woolf, and Jane Goldman, who will be hosting next year's conference at Glasgow)

      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

      Summer Reading

      Dear Woolf-Packers—

      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: Vara Neverow has posted a blog about the conference as well:

      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

      EK Sparks
      Tentative Syllabus for Virginia Woolf Seminar
      Fall 2010

      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


      BOOKS FOR WOOLF SEMINAR (prices off
      · 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

      Letter to Class 5/5/10

      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 would like a really good, genial Introduction to Virginia Woolf, I’d really recommend The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf by Jane Goldman. It’s very recent, and she is very smart. The book covers the life, work, contexts, and critical reception. Her lists of recommended articles for further reading are impeccable, and the last section offers a really useful history of trends in Woolf criticism. (The book is $25 on Amazon, but I see lots of remaindered copies available for $3+ shipping.)

      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.