English and drama

Special Author: Virginia Woolf

Module code: Q3023
Level 6
15 credits in autumn teaching
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module concentrates on the work of one of the best-known and most widely-read women writers of the 20th century, Virginia Woolf. Most students will already have encountered Woolf's work in your Year 2 modules; it is also very likely that you will come to the module with some knowledge of Woolf's life and that of her friends and family. This module will deepen your knowledge and understanding of Woolf's work, both in its historical context and in terms of the kind of conceptual and theoretical questions that her work raises. The module is designed to challenge what you think you already know about Woolf, and the kinds of preconceptions that readers often bring to Woolf and her work, and whether those are positive or negative. You think you may know who Virginia Woolf was, or what she wrote, but what about Virginia Stephen? What would happen if you stopped reading Woolf as a modernist and a woman writer? What other conceptual or historical frames could illuminate her work in new ways? What does Woolf have to do with the development of cinema, or the history of photography and the visual arts?

These are some of the questions that the module will address and encourage you to pursue through independent study. At the end of the module, you will: have read most of Woolf's novels and sampled some of her writing in other genres; have familiarised yourself with the history of the reception of that work; have learnt to challenge your own preconceptions about her work and its historical and conceptual contexts; and have learnt how to devise, structure, pursue and realise an independent research project, following detailed advice from your module tutor.

Module learning outcomes

  • Understand the formal and generic developments of a named author's work.
  • Understand how the work has been shaped by the social, historical and intellectual contexts in which it was produced.
  • Through critical analysis of a range of the author¿s writing over his/her career, demonstrate an understanding of how his/her literary reputation was established and has been maintained.
  • Organise complex material into an essay that illustrates independent research.