G-LSUD4 EnLit458 Woolf and Bloomsbury

Course type



In this course, Virginia Woolf’s (conventionally characterized) abysmal personality and work will be examined and reviewed against the backdrop of the Bloomsbury Group, post-Impressionism, Freudian psychoanalysis, French feminism, and late 20th-century gender theories. Focusing on two of her novels (Mrs Dalloway and Orlando), as well as a number of her essays and memoirs, our aim will be to explore Woolf as a modernist woman writer who revolutionized both genre and gender. Fascinated by the Bloomsbury Group’s passion for sexual freedom, and agnosticism, as well as their rejection of ethical canons, and influenced by their philosophical and aesthetic beliefs, Woolf called external reality into question, renounced materialism, artificial story lines, and well-structured plots, and recorded external events in her novels only so that they would release inner processes. Woolf’s experiments with the fusion of narrative voices and time, and the multipersonal representation of consciousness, led her to a dizzying but ingenious style in writing called ‘literary cubism’. Yet, although she triumphed as a novelist, she confessed herself incapable of telling the truth about the female body, as Freud’s ‘castrated woman’ cast a deep shadow over her. What Woolf did not realize, however, was that in her effort to cut loose from gender polarities, she not only outwitted Freud but also anticipated Judith Butler’s groundbreaking theory of gender performativity. Consequently, another aim of this class will be to interpret instances in our contemporary reality through the prism of Woolf’s modernism and feminism and detect ways in which her humor, boldness, and imagination have shaped our own way of thinking.


Teaching hours: 3 | Credits: 3 | ECTS: 6

The course is not currently offerred.