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English Program

Course Description

ENG 183/283
Reading Woolf Writing: “the thing that lies beneath the semblance of the thing”
Ruth Saxton

In Art Objects, Jeanette Winterson claims that Virginia Woolf’s words are the “language of rapture” and “exactness.” Woolf’s texts and ideas are complicated, conceptual, intellectual, anti-academic, and experimental. Woolf’s writing, and our conversation about it, will be the heart of the seminar. Expect to consider how Woolf's texts pose and respond to such questions as: What can a sentence do? How does a writer express what we deem inexpressible? What are the tensions and correlations between aesthetics and politics? How does one embed the violence of war in the syntax of poetry? Why and how does reading matter?

I invite you to fifteen challenging and rewarding weeks of reading Woolf’s words in memoir and letters, personal essays, critical reviews, short stories, and novels. Expect to wrestle with her texts, to engage in lively conversation, and to produce both a critical essay and an adaptation of this essay into a conference-length paper.

In addition, undergraduate students will be responsible for a group presentation, while graduate students will meet for two to four additional sessions (TBA) and will be responsible for a class presentation on one assigned text (of their choice).

Novels include: Jacob’s Room, The Voyage Out, To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, The Waves, and selected essays.

This course is offered Spring 2016.


Last Updated: 6/9/17