Shawna Ross deposited Virginia Woolf and the Intellectual Life: A Graduate Syllabus on Humanities Commons 3 months, 2 weeks ago
Virginia Woolf is already recognized today as a major player in the Bloomsbury Group, an intellectual powerhouse that influenced modern philosophy, politics, economics, aesthetics, biography, and literary criticism. Yet Woolf’s reputation as a fiction writer first and foremost has distracted critical attention from her thorough interrogation of what it means to be an intellectual. This class, by contrast, begins with the presumption that Woolf had much to say about the intellectual life—how to pursue it, why to pursue it, and who may pursue it. We will explore how her writing was affected by her embittered sense of being peripheral to academia (from her disappointment at not receiving a university education and her ambivalence over “not knowing Greek” to her bemused sense of irony of being invited to speak at women’s colleges and her intimate acquaintance with the vicissitudes of the intellectual life practiced by male Bloomsberries). We will theorize how her relationships with universities and scholars informed her sense of professional ethics as a literary critic, essayist, novelist, and publisher. We will treat her fictional representations of student’s and professors’ endeavors as central to her works and use them as inspiration for shaping our own knowledge of ourselves as scholars and students.