Virginia Woolf, Autobiography, and Mrs. Dalloway (Notes for a lecture)


I have to prepare a lecture for my thesis director’s Virginia Woolf class next Tuesday. She wants me to basically chat up my thesis and the relationship between Virginia and Leonard, so now it’s time to deconstruct her email and do what I do best…brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm!

They’ve read The Voyage Out

This means I’ll have the chance to talk about the recurrence of the Dalloways in Woolf’s work

Discussed communication issues

Use this to lead into Mrs. Dalloway and discussion of communication issues as possible motivation for writing the text.

Just read Mrs. Dalloway and watched The Hours

so I probably need to at the least mention The Hours

this would be a good way to break the ice…my thesis was originally supposed to be on both the film and the book. But after rereading the book, I decided there was so much more there that I wanted to cover.

For Mrs. Dalloway they’ve discussed the madness, parallels in the treatment for PTSD and women’s “illnesses,” internal and external worlds, the structure, Woolf’s focus on “time”

portrayal of Leonard and Virginia in The Hours

I need to rewatch this to see if I have any new comments on their relationship.

Interested in Woolf’s life, her illness, her marriage to Leonard., etc.

Hmmm..I wonder what the “etc.” is. I should probably be prepared for this part. As for Woolf’s life, her illness and her marriage to Leonard, this shouldn’t be ANY problem since that was the basis of my thesis.

Basic Structure for Lecture

  • Good day and welcome
    • take a few minutes to talk to the class about their reading for the semester and their general feelings about Woolf and her writing.
  • Woolf and the Dalloways
    • Voyage Out (1915)
      • introduces the Dalloways
    • “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street”
      • intended to be the first chapter for Mrs. Dalloway
        • published independently in 1923 (Hogarth Press)
    • “The New Dress
      • written in 1924 while Woolf was editing Mrs. Dalloway
    • Mrs. Dalloway
      • published 1925
    • “The Man Who Loved His Kind”
    • “Ancestors”
    • “Together and Apart”
    • “A Summing Up”
      • all written between the completion of Mrs. Dalloway in October 1924 and May 1925
      • only characters Woolf writes about beyond one text
  • Why Madness? Why Autobiography?
    • Focus here (for a few brief moments) on why Woolf wanted to discuss madness in her novel and why she chose to utilize so much of her own life in the text
      • Leonard felt that through his own personal journals he “understood” his wife’s illness.
        • Virginia needed to convince him that he actually knew nothing of the illness itself because he was not in her head.
      • By pulling in moments of her own life that Leonard was familiar with, Woolf had a chance to make her husband see the text as more than just a novel. If he would pay close enough attention to what he was reading (which he had to do when proofing the typeset), he would realize some underlying truths about Virginia’s illness
  • Autobiographical Connections and Parallels to Manic-Depression
    • Discuss individually
      • Septimus
        • manic at its worst
        • spends time in park that parallels Rodmell
      • Peter
        • recovering depressive
        • just returned to London (as Woolf had at the time she wrote the bulk of Mrs. Dalloway
      • Clarissa
        • oscillates–has moments of both mania and depression in the text
        • lives in the city and works through her illness
          • only possible because she is not returning to “newness” of city and therefore the noises that trigger both Septimus and Peter are everyday sounds that she is immune to.
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About smartykatt

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Lamar University where I specialize in rhetoric, composition, digital literacy, and information literacy. My research focuses on the intersections of student engagement with digital and information literacy and their relation to student research and writing. I am an ACES Fellow at Lamar and, with Janice Walker (Georgia Southern), I am a Principal Investigator on the LILAC Project.

Posted on March 16, 2007, in Conference Presentations, Literary Theory and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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