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.