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Virginia Woolf

ENGL 0506.301
MW 12:00-1:29pm

In 1924, a century ago, Virginia Woolf was a forty-two-year-old writer with hundreds of reviews and essays, a dozen short stories, and three novels to her name. She was hard at work on her fourth novel, /Mrs. Dalloway/, which, when it was published the following year, would firmly establish her literary reputation and propel her to celebrity. Woolf is widely recognized today as one of the twentieth century’s most innovative, prolific, and versatile writers—a devout diarist and correspondent who also penned several groundbreaking memoirs and influential long-form essays, and nine novels that are among the most beloved, widely adapted, and closely studied in the English language. This Benjamin Franklin Seminar offers students a semester-long immersion in Woolf’s life and writings while also attending closely to the historical contexts of both. It introduces students, in addition, to the large and rapidly growing body of scholarship on Woolf through two major writing assignments: a book review of a recent scholarly monograph or edition; and a research paper on some focused topic, theme, or question. Both majors and non-majors should emerge from the course better able to learn their way around a given cultural figure’s life and oeuvre. And they should be equipped to connect such a figure to contemporary individuals, communities, and historical energies and to navigate her cultural legacy and scholarly archive in pursuit of their own research questions. As a way of delving into Woolf’s legacy, we will also read two recent works: ‘/Of One Woman or So/ by Olivia N’Gowfri,’ a novella that Kabe Wilson created in 2014 by resequencing every word in Woolf’s /A Room of One’s Own/; and /LOTE/, Shola von Reinhold’s 2020 novel about the “Bright Young Things” of the wider Bloomsbury circle, in which dark academia meets Black trans joy.

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • The Novel Concentration (AENV)
College Attributes
  • Sector III: Arts & Letters (AUAL)