Week 9c (12!)

I’m posting to you this week from Hogwarts, and I’ll post photos here, too, once I get over my jet lag a little– but I want to set you up with your reading for this week so you can stay on track as you revise your drafts of your proposals. (And don’t forget about your conferences!)

And, also, keep reading. I’ve reduced your reading a bit for this week to focus on the proposals and Mrs. Dalloway for now. I hope that the article by Mark Gaipa will help you think through the order of things in your thesis proposal and ask: What do you want to contribute to this scholarly conversation that precedes you? It’s an exciting question to me, because I know that you all have things to say about these texts that other readers will want to hear.

I want to hear them.

And I want to hear also: Do you find the Gaipa article descriptive of you as a student and as a writer– and do you find it helpful? What could we use in this article as we dig into the discussion about your theses?


Once upon a time, I had a minor revelation about the ways the novel works as a genre to represent consciousness while I was doing a close reading of the first line of this novel: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” And then they take the doors of the hinges.

What literary forms does Woolf devise to represent the experiences that interest her– of being a person in the world, in relation to other people and in relation to history?

You will undoubtedly have some moments in reading this novel where you feel really uncertain, or destabilized, as a reader. But then you will catch yourself and find the thread of the plot again. What does Woolf achieve by moving her reader through the world of the novel in this way? What is she asking us to think about, or to do, as readers?

And when we talk about Woolf, we often talk about her as a modernist. What does that mean, and how might it help us– or not– to categorize the writers we read in this way? (As we begin to prepare in earnest for your exam, we’ll talk more about this: Which categories prove most useful to us as we try to put all of the texts we read into a big picture, so we can see the patterns among the texts we read and think about them in relation to each other?)

Which passages from the novel do you like? This is a novel that inspires strong reactions in some readers, and it is a favorite novel for some. (I love this novel, personally– although it’s ok with me if  you don’t!) Whether you like it or not, you will have moments in the novel that focus your attention in some way. What are those moments, and what is Woolf doing in them?

I want to know.

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15 Responses to Week 9c (12!)

  1. When I read Mark Gaipa’s “Breaking into the Conversation: How Students Can Acquire Authority for Their Writing” I thought having an image to accompany the strategy the student used in their paper was creative! There were quite a few different strategies students could use, but the image that went with each strategy made it easier to understand what Gaipa discussed for each strategy. The strategy that stood out to me was piggybacking. He writes, “Not only do students ingratiate themselves with an authoritative critic, but they also make room for themselves by completing or extending the work that the critic has left undone” (Gaipa 428). I thought that this is a strategy I could use in my own paper because I already see that there will be ideas I want to expand on, and Gaipa shows us there is nothing wrong with that. Plus, I noticed that by piggybacking off a critic’s idea I will still have my own voice in my paper.

    Now, moving on to Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” I truly think this was one of my favorite texts by her so far. The flashbacks that Clarissa Dalloway has as she is preparing for her party were very intriguing to me. She asserts, “…as for Peter Walsh, he had never to this day forgiven her for liking him” (Woolf, 6). Throughout the text, we see that Clarissa and Peter have a rocky relationship; one that I thought was unhealthy. In this moment it’s as if Woolf is introducing us to Peter and explaining how Clarissa and him have a past. I think this moment gives us a heads up that there is more to come about Clarissa and Peter’s relationship. The second moment I was fascinated with was Septimus’s thoughts. He thinks that, “The world wavered and quivered and threatened to burst into flames. It is I who am blocking the way, he thought” (Woolf 15). Septimus’s thoughts are far from ordinary, and I am convinced he is mentally ill. He makes it clear that he wishes to die, and the way Woolf sets this moment up made me curious to see if he will follow through with this death wish or not when I first read this text. I also thought its interesting what we learn about each character that we’re introduced to through these flashbacks.

  2. Emily Abrams says:

    I approached Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” with an open mind this week. With book and audiobook in hand, I prepared myself. Yes, the audiobook has a British reader, so my thoughts were filled with Downtown Abbey-esque ideas as I imagined who exactly Clarissa Dalloway might be in the pages to come. But that’s another story, I digress; I was ready. In the first third of the novel, I can see where the characterization of “taking the doors off of the hinges” lies – Woolf delivers an intriguing narrative from the third person, affording acute attention to details with a deeply introspective nature. What might otherwise be viewed as a story of social upper-class mundanity becomes, instead, through Woolf’s prose, a story full of intricacies. As Maureen Howard described in this edition’s foreword, readers see the unmistakable “clarity of diction” in describing the “simple scheme” of Clarissa Dalloway’s day of party preparations (vii). Readers get multiple perspectives, complex characters, strained relationships, and more through what Howard notes as “the shimmering flow of language and emotion that strains” (vii).

    For me, personally, my attention during this reading fluctuated according to the topics/rising action in the story. I would find myself straining to read the intricate details about flowers in a shop, commotion regarding the greatness of a figure in a car, or airplane writings; but, instead, I was captivated by Mrs. Dalloway’s connection to Peter Walsh and her friendship with Sally Seton—the drama of it all. Maybe in these moments, Woolf’s writing asks us the readers a critical question: do we only focus on what matters most in a story? Considering Howard’s notes in her foreword, the finer details are equally significant within Woolf’s story, offering readers valuable opportunities for self-reflection and arguably Woolf’s own review of the simplicities of life.

    There are certainly moments I gleaned a magical quality about Woolf’s writing, eager to underline passages that in some sense held a therapeutic quality to them. Lines offer some kind of deeper evaluation of life and connections we build as humans were usually the ones that stood out to me. Here are a few (a lot, sorry):
    1) “This late age of the world’s experience had bred in them, all men and women, a well of tears. Tears and sorrows; courage and endurance; a perfectly right and stoical bearing” (9-10)
    2) “The world wavered and quivered and threatened to burst into flame. It is I who am blocking the way, he thought” (15)
    3) Regarding the “plaguy spirit of truth seeking”: “…great men belong to it; martyrs have died for it; why not enter in…” (28)
    4) “There they sat, hour after hour, talking in her bedroom at the top of the house, talking about life, how they were to reform the world” (33)
    5) The repeated lines of “The future lies in the hands of you men like that” (50).
    6) Peter’s dreamscape: “…all this fever of living were simplicity itself” (57)

    Maybe it is because I am some kind of a sentimentalist, hopelessly naïve or what have you, but I see these lines as particularly reflective of Woolf’s “shimmering” language. At minimum, if not repurposed for Tumblr posts, they definitely could be put on mugs or something. All respect is properly due to Virginia Woolf, here. I think these are some incredibly written and beautiful lines, worth examining, possibly in how they seem to (or do) stand alone, outside of the novel’s plot. There is something oratorical in nature for some of them; something emotionally poignant in all of them.

    P.S. I’m pitching this again (yes, Jordan!): an audiobook is pretty great to listen along with while reading a physical copy of a book—it’s a new experience, like a book club meeting of 1  And, of course, a great big cup of tea…

  3. Deepika Khan says:

    “Breaking into the Conversation” by Mark Gaipa was not a new article for me. More than one of my English courses at Queens College had required us to read and apply Gaipa’s strategies in our papers. Considering Paul Beatty’s “The Sellout” is a relatively new novel (2015), I imagine it will be difficult to find scholarly articles that discuss the novel directly. I think I, along with most of my classmates, will aim for “Strategy 8: Crossbreeding the Conversation with Something New” (Gaipa 432) since our theses should be completely original and contribute to the larger conversation at play. Though Johan Galtung’s article “Violence, Peace, and Peace Research” and been around since 1969, I doubt a scholar has directly connected Beatty’s novel to Galtung’s research. I hope to provide a proposal and paper that is the first of its kind, at least for now! I definitely think Gaipa’s article will prove to be helpful to us in developing our proposals for our theses. The article provides its readers multiple ways to enter larger, intimidating conversations in the literary world.

    The first thirty pages of Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” were an absolute struggle to read through. It seemed as if there were several different storylines taking place all at once, and I didn’t know which to focus my attention on. Woolf devises the third person omniscient perspective (I think!) in her novel. As a reader, it seems as if Clarissa Dalloway is the one narrating but the words “I” or “me” are rarely used, save for a character’s inner thoughts. It was difficult to keep up with the numerous references Woolf made to British culture and history since I’m not entirely knowledgeable on that. For example, Septimus and Lucrezia’s storyline was mostly lost on me until I read online that the former was a veteran who now seemingly suffers post-traumatic stress disorder. Now it makes sense why Septimus’ character acts the way he does and why he tries to “kill himself” (Woolf 24). I believe Woolf is asking us to think about a character’s state of mind by including Septimus’ and his wife’s story. She’s also asking her readers to think about a character’s origins, like Clarissa Dalloway’s, for example, and how these beginnings may lead to/shape a character’s future. Regarding Virginia Woolf as a modernist, the style in which “Mrs. Dalloway” is written in no surprise. The main characters have the opportunity to express their inner thoughts to readers as freely as the author will allow. Clarissa’s feelings for Sally and Septimus’ mental illness are only possible in modernist literature or beyond. I know that literary modernism started around the late 19th century when the World Wars were occurring. I’m sure the effects of war on society greatly influenced writers, like Woolf, when creating their literary texts. Anything past the first thirty pages, I liked as a reader. The points in the story in which I could follow along, like Clarissa’s relationship with Sally and Peter, I particularly enjoyed reading.

  4. At the very beginning of Mark Gaipa’s article, “Breaking Into the Conversation:How Students Can Acquire Authority for Their Writing” he discusses the idea of authority. He then continues to discuss the idea of authority through different strategies. In the first strategy, known as picking a fight, the text states, “In this strategy, the student authors confront individual critics and try to steal their authority by knocking them off their pedestals” (Gaipa 427). It’s interesting how Gaipa chooses to discuss the idea of stealing authority by knocking the other off of their respected position. We see a sense of this in Mrs.Dalloway, if we think about this in terms of characters. The three main characters we follow in the text, Mrs Dalloway, Peter, and Septimus, are all from respected positions, but when in contact with one another they seem to be more in competition with each other, which we see with Clarissa and Peter.

    In Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, we see that both Clarissa and Peter are characters who have reached levels of success, and strengthened their status in society. However, we still see that between these two characters, Clarissa seems to have more authority, and there’s a sort of tension created between these two characters due to this level of status and authority that Clarissa holds. In Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf the text states, “Exactly the same, thought Clarissa; the same queer look; the same check suit; a little out of the straight his face is, a little thinner, dryer, perhaps, but he looks awfully well, and just the same (40). From what we know about Clarissa and Peter’s past, her view on him hasn’t changed. Instead, she still views him as someone who is unable to make progress, she still sees him in a light where he’s limited. So in that sense his status level and power hasn’t changed since she last saw him. So that sets the difference of level of authority between these two characters. Going back to the Gaipa quote that was previously mentioned, we see that both Clarissa and Peter are trying to steal the other’s authority by knowing the other off their pedestal. In this scene, Peter takes out his pocket knife and Clarissa has a pair of scissors and her needle. And in a sense, with these tools, Peter cuts into Clarissa, and her status and authority. And she feels the need to do the same to him with her scissors and her needle as they catch up and speak about what has happened since they last saw one another. So thinking in terms of this, we do in fact see Clarissa and Peter try to take each other off their pedestals, which you could also see by their dialogue in this scene as well.

  5. Of course, Gaipa’s article is descriptive of me as a student and as a writer! Here are some excerpts of a longer essay that I wrote earlier this year.

    Why is it so hard? Why was I trying so hard to find different words from those that have already been used to describe the same feelings that have already been felt by someone else? This feeling kept erupting and I couldn’t exactly explain it. It felt like resent. I had shared the same thoughts with so many other people—the same feelings and realities—but why did that make me so uncomfortable? One reason was that they were writing about it and I wasn’t, and the other reason was that I’d identified that I wasn’t writing about it, but then did nothing about it. But why was I so pressed to share these thoughts anyway; would I be so pressed if everyone
    else wasn’t writing about it?

    Note to self: What do you want to do? Why are you so afraid to do anything because you think someone is already doing it? Focus on what you can offer. What can you offer?

    Eventually I began putting words to the feeling—thinking that it would make me feel better—but it didn’t. I didn’t know what to think of it, and if I thought anything about it at all, it was that I had nothing to say and that I probably never did, that I didn’t know how or what to write, and that I wasn’t a writer. The more I felt this way, the more overwhelming the need to write became.

    Still, I couldn’t escape the idea that I just had to be different. One thing that helped me was something a professor once told me, “Don’t try to be original, be authentic.”

    So, I personally find Gaipa’s article helpful as it relates to nonfiction and academic writing. Specifically, we could use the following points in our discussions about our theses:

    1. Getting familiar with criticism and evaluating
    2. Finding and fashioning one’s own argument
    3. Situating that argument into a comfortable space within conversation

    Moving on to the novel…

    Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway, has several narrators and flashbacks. It is a story of fragments instead of a linear and omniscient narrator. When we discuss Woolf as a modernist, these aspects of the novel are significant. Woolf’s style of writing, especially in this novel, represent the distortions and dynamics of characters’ lives in flux.

    The tone is descriptive, reflective, observatory, and simple, yet subtly striking (sometimes).

    I’m not a fan of the novel from what I’ve read. I suppose the free indirect discourse would be something that draws me in, and certain moments of narration. Also, parts when Woolf is descriptive about a scene. This is what focuses my attention, but other than that, I feel quite removed and disconnected from the form and content.

  6. Venessa says:

    The Gaipa article was very entertaining to me. His writing is very engaging and the fact that he uses pictures is just so great. It was a very helpful article as to how to approach the thesis assignment. He says strategies 3 and 4 are most effective. Step 3 is leapfrogging; “Not only do students ingratiate themselves with an authoritative critic, but they also make room for themselves by completing or extending the work that the critic has left undone” (428). This strategy is useful because it expands on a preexisting piece of work, but the student makes it theirs by adding to it. The next strategy is leapfrogging. With this one, “Students align themselves with a prestigious critic whose work they praise and elevate in their essays; then they point out a problem in the critic’s work that their arguments alone can solve” (429). This is like the opposite of piggybacking. Going off the critic’s work, instead of extending it, here, they go against it. This two forms are pretty interesting approaches. I also liked strategy 8, which was: Crossbreeding the conversation with something new. This means adding something new to a particular debate. This one appealed to me a lot.

    In Mrs. Dalloway, I was very uncertain about what was going on at different points, however what struck me most was the fact that Mrs. Dalloway might be bisexual. That’s what I got from the part in the book that talks about Sally Seton. First, it says, “yet she could not resist sometimes yielding to the charm of a woman…But this question of love…this falling in love with women. Take Sally Seton; her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Had not that, after all, been love?” (31-32). I knew she was the wife of Richard Dalloway, so when I got to this passage, I wondered if the reason her relationship with her husband is not going well is because she was a lesbian. However, after reading the part about Peter Walsh, I think Mrs. Dalloway is bisexual. I’m not sure if she really is, however, I believe she finds the company of woman, at least in this part of the story, to be more pleasing than the company of men.

  7. In Mark Gaipa’s article, “Breaking Into the Conversation:How Students Can Acquire Authority for Their Writing” one line that struck me in particular was “I tell them that there are two basic maneuvers they can pursue at this point: they can push their argument toward the center of the room, or they can move it toward the margins. Each maneuver comes with pluses and minuses” (425). I like that Gaipa splits up the idea of an argument and talks about it like this. I think this is a helpful technique to employ because often times when writing many students (including myself) will try and do both. You’re writing a paper and suddenly you realize you’re pulling and pushing in two completely different directions. I think another useful this brings up is that, if you know which way the paper needs to go then it’s going to be easier to fall into it being split in this way. Or not split but the kind of thing where you make one argument and then find yourself suddenly making another. I also like that he goes on to explore what pulling or pushing in either direction can merit (or conversely, be negative.) Seeing the outline of the essay this way beforehand can help make it work easier with one wants to argue. Because not every essay topic is the same, it’s good to remember there’s more than one pathway/way to write an essay. Where bringing the argument to the center might work in one case, in another moving it the margins might be much more beneficial to talk about the topic at length. It also may be a way to talk about the topic and discover more. Where one might be easier it might tell the readers nothing new, whereas, the other way will lead to the author and readers alike discovering something new from their information.

    From Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, so far I’m really enjoying the way she describes the season. Pages four to five have an extraordinarily vivid description of the scenery. From it, we as readers can gleam many things. First, it serves as a wonderful sense of scenery. It’s winter. We’re not exactly in “garden party” season, yet reading her description of June pulled me in so magnetically I almost forgot the snow storm on Thursday night completely (almost.) “In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the up-roar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some areoplane overhead was that she loved; life; London; this moment of June. For it was the middle of June” (4-5). I think, if anything, she’s trying to achieve personality, getting inside someone’s head, and the mental complexities of perceiving the world a certain way. I think she wants readers to see as she sees, and, understand from her perspective.

  8. Kaitlin Margaret McDermott says:

    It’s kind of crazy, but this week was my first time (ever) reading Virginia Woolf. Coincidentally, Woolf was assigned this week both for this class, as well as for my Milton class. After reading samples from a few of her texts, as well as the first third of Mrs. Dalloway, I feel like I’ve a good idea of the range of her writing — and, a better idea of how to make sense out of this week’s readings.

    I’ll begin by saying that I’m really liking the novel so far. It’s unlike anything I’ve read in the past, in the best possible way. The style is effective and, though seemingly scattered or all-over-the-place in moments, Woolf’s clear skill as a writer assures me, as a reader, that the words on the page are exactly what is needed to accomplish her aims. But, what are those aims? And, how do we decode them?

    Maybe this will become more apparent as the novel goes on. So far, though, the tension stemming from keeping up appearances has been interesting to me, as have the descriptions of Mrs. Dalloway herself. I especially like this moment, a few pages into the novel:

    “She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”

    I read this quote two or three times on my first look at the novel, and found myself coming back to it throughout. Aside from being quite telling about Mrs. Dalloway and her character (as well as her social circumstances), I think that it represents also much of Woolf’s stylistic success and control over her sentences. The visceral nature of the quote — “she sliced” — cuts through the paragraph in which it is buried, casting the reader him or herself also, in a sense, “far out to sea and alone.”

    The theory piece for this week is one that I encountered last term in Professor Tougaw’s class. I, like my classmates, do also appreciate Gaipa’s (mildly ridiculous) drawings, as well as his straightforward introduction to entering scholarly conversations. As far as working on my own thesis, and thinking about the writing that I’ve done in the past, I think that I tend towards using Strategy 8: Crossbreeding the Conversation with Something New. Critical writing about literature lends itself well to this method, I think, because readers almost always interpret things with some degree of difference, or pick up on new details due to their own experiences, preferences, or theoretical outlooks. After reading Gaipa’s piece, I wonder how it is recommended for someone to break into a conversation in which there are many (many) scholars seated in the “Conference Ballroom,” due of the canonical/otherwise popular nature of a work. I am thinking that narrowing the parameters of the conversation itself would likely be helpful, but aside from that, I don’t quite know.

  9. My favorite authors, generally, are ones who are grounded firmly in the material. Reading their works is almost like watching a film – the characters move across the page and through their lives in an entirely external, tangible way, and as the reader I have to infer the internal workings of the characters from their actions. If given a glimpse into the mind of a character, into their internal world, it is done selectively and with grave purpose.

    Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” which I rather enjoy, is almost the opposite of this. We’re presented with, through her stream-of-consciousness style, the internal landscape of Woolf’s characters almost to the exclusion of all else. Every thought as it occurs to the character is written on the page, and the real, external moments are less common, serving as a grounding point for the reader.

    At the beginning of the novel, the reader is immediately immersed in Clarissa Dalloway’s mind. We’re given only the briefest tangible glimpses – the Durtnall’s van passing while she waits on the kerb, the strike of Big Ben, the backfiring of a motor car – with which to paint in our minds some sort of scene.

    This narrative mode does a lot of work to serve many of the novel’s themes and plot points. The privacy which both enables and inhibits the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Dalloway is a function of their internal wants and needs not being expressed, and the overt expression of their internal selves on the page highlights this. The post-traumatic stress disorder plaguing Septimus’ mind, a disorder operating internally and exhibiting no true somatic symptoms, is also privileged by this style. Again, the post-war class shifts happening in England as the novel takes place are not truly material issues – they are issues of perception and of shifts of power. The immaterial nature of the prose affords Woolf the ability to elevate these more ideologically bound themes by defamiliarizing her reader from what they might expect from a narrative, just as the characters have been defamiliarized from the world around them after the First World War.

  10. Jude Binda says:

    The Gaipa reading is one that I, like most others, are familiar with simply because it is a great piece for thinking about strategies for writing. I find Ass Kissing to be one of the more interesting ones to think about as a concept, not as a useful strategy. An audience that takes a writer’s opinion as an ultimate truth is no fun. People focus too much on what a work meant to the author instead of what the work means to them. Of course, this invokes the question of literary autonomy. I feel like the creator of anything is allowed to have their say in what they were trying to do with a piece, but it is ultimately up to an individual to form their own perspective. The Ass Kissing method is not productive because it is far less likely to add anything to the conversation. It’s sad that there are professors who encourage the regurgitation of played out interpretations when there are endless possibilities out there just waiting to be written about. I think the only thing we can gain from reading about this strategy is what we may want to avoid when writing our theses.

    I find myself conflicted about Mrs. Dalloway. On one hand, the amount of times I have to stop and retrace my steps because I realize I don’t understand what is happening is much more than usual. On the other hand, the way Mrs. Dalloway is written is fascinating. It reminds me of our conversation from earlier in the semester about distance. Even though I, as a reader, have been placed in the middle of a very active story, I feel disoriented and far away. Being fully immersed in a world yet not having a clear idea about where all this is going is definitely strange but I’m optimistic about it all coming together eventually.

  11. Before this week, I didn’t know anything about Virginia Woolf apart from her name and seeing a staging of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Coming out of this week, I was struck with a feeling I don’t often get when reading new authors. Like the first time reading Baldwin, Coates, Rothfuss, and a handful of others, I was struck with an overwhelming feeling that I needed to step my writing up.

    Woolf’s novel, despite being endlessly (and sometimes frustratingly) confusing, I found myself unable to put it down. Something about the way the narrative flows together is so seamless, even with the multitude of characters. I found myself paying particular attention to point of view in the novel, as I’m unsure of where it is “centered”, if that makes sense. Basically I’m trying to decide whether or not the narration is always from Clarissa, who subconsciously can tell (or at least has a good idea) of what other characters are thinking – after all, she says that “Her only gift was knowing people almost by instinct” – or if the narrator is switching points of view dynamically depending on who has the focus at any given moment. Stylistically I think this is why I enjoyed it so much. That kind of motion is incredibly difficult, and while I sometimes struggled with keeping the characters in tune with their personalities, each of those personalities were very well defined. A particular passage that stood out to me was when Clarissa and Peter spoke after his return from India and revealing he’d fallen in love (kind of?). The swapping of point of view became almost erratic, and evoked a kind of tension that was really unique and reminded me of real tense conversations I’ve had.

    The Gaipa article, as a few other classmates have as well, I’ve read before and I think encompasses all writers in some ways. I love theory like this, and I think more of it needs to be written. It’s not bogged down in it’s language, is quick and to the point about the ideas he’s trying to portray. I find that I’m almost always at odds with the theoretical pieces I read – partly because I just can’t stand how unreadable most theory is, and so I’ve picked up a lot from the picking a fight strategy listed here.

  12. Samantha Brown says:

    Yeah, so I forgot my username and password but I’m still here!

    I really enjoyed the Gaipa reading! I felt like it really spoke to my hardships with forming a thesis and getting into the thesis process. He spoke about finding a space for your argument through all the arguments that have already been made. It makes me think about where does my argument fit. Has it already been made? probably but what makes his method work is that throough those alredy existing claims can we come to find out own original argument. I think I may need to do further research on my focus as a means of creating an original thesis argument but what he is saying definitely resonates and relates to Virginia Woolf’s style and ideals on writing.

    Reading Mrs. Dalloway this semester makes me remember why i failed to read it last semester. The sentences are too long and confusing. it makes me want to give up but there is just so much going on within the novel that I can’t help but keep with it. Woolf’s style of writing with Mrs. Dalloway definitely makes her a pioneer of women’s writing and writing as a whole because of her ability to claim such a mode of writing. Like Gaipa’s article, Woolf is also interested in helping people, more specifically women, make a space for themselve’s in writing. I’m reading “A Room of One’s Own” in another class this week and its all about women finding the necessities required to be able to write. I know she talks about having money and like the title, a room of one’s own where they are able to fully focus on writing. Gaipa and Woolf share that ideal although in different times and forms but it just goes to show how no matter how long ago, writers still and always will need to fight for the space to write.

  13. Truthfully, I have to agree with Deepika in that the first thirty pages of Mrs. Dalloway were sort of confusing. I found it difficult to follow all the different storylines and found myself having to read slower than usual in order to track what was going on. That being said, it is still a bit early for me to really have an opinion on the text, but, one part I liked (so far) has to be when Clarissa and Peter come face-to-face after all these years. With all the confusion during the earlier portion of the novel, I found this moment to finally provide some sort of clarity for me as a reader and was the pivotal moment in drawing me in. Specifically, what I found refreshing was the fact that Woolf provided both Clarissa and Peter’s narrations in this scene. Being that it had been years since the old lovers reunited, I thought that hearing both point of view allowed me as a reader to fully appreciate this moment. I find that many times having only one narration limits the text because of factors such as reliability and perspective that can hinder, rather than benefit the text. Being able to read both internal narrations provided depth to the scene and painted a complete picture. With both characters inclusion, it was interesting to see the commentary and reactions to the same experiences.

    Now moving to Gaipa’s article, I found it entertaining and refreshing to read a piece that brought humor to literary criticism. Typically I think that researching literary criticism can sometimes be overwhelming and viewed as unexciting; however, after reading Gaipa’s piece, I believe that if writers bear in mind his techniques, that writing an essay can actually be interesting. All things considered, my favorite technique has to be “Strategy 8: Crossbreeding the conversation with something new” (Gaipa 432) for the idea to add onto the critic’s conversation by “injecting new material into the debate” (432). If implementing this technique, writers won’t be falling into that trap of repeating/agreeing with everything that the critic has to say This then gives a fresh take on the discussion and allows the writer (in this case a student) the chance to fully immerse themselves into the world of literary criticism.

  14. Stacey McDonald says:

    I found the Gaipa article “Breaking Into the Conversation:How Students Can Acquire Authority for Their Writing” incredibly descriptive of me, both as a student and as a writer- honestly at some points it was almost too accurate. It was very reminiscent of a class I took with Professor Cassvan, who always encouraged us to take a second look, to develop our own readings, which is something that I have found incredibly useful in acquiring my own authority in my writing- although I am sure that I have had a number of professors that haven’t necessarily appreciated that and wish that I would stick to my sources and stifle my own opinions.

    In terms of our theses, I think that we can use the Gaipa article to help us in getting familiar with reading criticism, in our drafting processes, and in crafting, fine-tuning if you will, our end-product- the argument that drives our thesis forward and gives it purpose.

    Onto Mrs. Dalloway- allow me to preface by saying that I have a very complicated relationship with Virginia Woolf. I want nothing more than to love, understand, and appreciate every single thing she has ever written, but I often find myself struggling to do so. I read excerpts from A Room of One’s Own and loved it, but then found myself challenged with reading To The Lighthouse and felt that it was lacking. The opening 20 or so pages of Mrs. Dalloway were along those lines as well- lacking, but once I overcame that point I began to enjoy the novel much, much more. The pages of this novel are riddled with sexual innuendo, and I agree with Vanessa that Clarissa is absolutely bisexual, although at this point I am beginning to wonder if she holds a preference for the company of women over the company of men.

    I am still working through the time aspect of this novel, and have more than once had to go back and re-read a section. However, all of my favorite part of this novel so far is in the description of Clarissa’s “love” for Sally: “The strange thing, looking back, was the purity, the integrity, of her feeling for Sally. It was not like one’s feeling for a man…But the charm was overpowering, to her at least, so that she could remember standing in her bedroom at the top of the house holding the hot-water can in her hands and saying aloud ‘She is beneath this roof…She is beneath this roof!’ (Woolf, 32). I take Sally’s position as “beneath the roof” to mean much more than a literal stance inside of the home, and think instead that this is a proclamation of Sally having found her way under Clarissa’s skin, to a place where she cannot be forgotten- but this may also just be my own romanticization of what I have read so far. And on that note, I will end my post, very much looking forward to the reading to come.

  15. Zara Diaby says:

    I have not done any research into Virginia Woolfe, I have heard of her work and I believe I may have read some of it in my early college years. However, I cannot be so sure but the way in which she writes about the world that Mrs. Dalloway and her companions occupy I am struck by her ability to seamlessly show us the intricate ways in which they are all connected yet worlds apart. I do not think I found this novel hard to read, mostly because I find myself thinking in this way. My thoughts are all conjoined followed by a common thread, yet to the outside world it seems like there is no rhyme or reason for it. Take for example the airplane that passes overhead throughout the novel. It shows how we all may witness the same thing yet perceive it differently, we may interpret the message as Toffee or we may interpret it as a signal hailing us back to some time. It all depends.
    Woolfe’s message about the upper class may be interpreted differently for different people, perhaps she was calling attention to the shallow ways in which people exist in this world or the lack of attention given to our soilders. Perhaps it was both OR perhaps it was something more, as I said I do not know much about Woolfe or her reasons for penning this book. What I do know is her ability to draw you into someone’s world and not ask you to like them but attempt to understand them. “And there the motor car stood, with drawn blinds, and upon them a curious pattern like a tree, Septimus thought, and this gradual drawing together of everything to one centre before his eyes, as if some horror had come almost to the surface and was about to burst into flames, terrified him.” Here we peek into the mind of a man who has seen the terrors of war and we are asked not to judge him or even sympathisize but to see what the world is like when you return home from such horrors. Those around him cannot see or even begin to imagine that it is like, some people empathsize and try to help and others just judge and dismiss him.
    The issues I face while writing come from the feeling of lack of authority and the notion that its all been said and done before. Trying to feel as though you are original and not a carbon copy of some academic that has come before you is terrifingly hard. Gaipa states we should attempt to battle this by making way to the middle of the ball room; “yet the center of the room is also the most congested part of the conversation, and it is occupied by the most prestigious, intimidating scholars. To make room for their arguments amid this crowd, the students must rise to the challenge of pushing some of these people out of the way—or show us (their audience) that there is more room in the middle than we had imagined.” My response to that is: YES! But with all the information packed into this article, being so confident in such a way is terrifying. In my mind there is always that seed of, “they know more than you…so, no your answer is wrong.” Or “You are just piggy backing off of those who are more intelligent than you,” which again is another terrifying and saddening thought. However I am hopeful that further conversation will quell these fears and I am able to present my thesis with resistance to these thoughts.

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