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Title: Virginia Woolf's rooms and the spaces of modernity
Author: Zink, Gabriella Suzana
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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The present study aims to expand recent scholarship on modernism’s engagement with space by uncovering the centrality of “the room” in Woolf’s writings. Although the iconic “room of one’s own” has long been considered the cornerstone of Woolf’s feminist politics, criticism has been slow to recognise the significance of the multitude of rooms in her œuvre, from rooms evocative of domestic, national and colonial space in the works of fiction to rooms as loci of memory in “A Sketch of the Past.” This thesis argues that Woolf’s writings not only foreground such spatial representations but also model ways of reading and understanding space which anticipate current theoretical observations. The spatial formation of rooms sits at the heart of Woolf’s interweaving of the political and the aesthetic, yielding an understanding of space itself as dynamic, layered and relational. Previously unexplored “common readers’” responses to A Room of One’s Own preface the discussion. This allows new reader stories to emerge and offers a fresh perspective on the impact of the 1929 polemical essay on its historical readers. The focus then shifts to Woolf’s debut novel, where the room trope configures a symbolic space of ideological constraints bound up with patriarchal ideas of women, empire and the nation. Night and Day overlaps the material and the textual to critique memorialization practices and negotiate Victorian legacies, a negotiation also thematised in The Years, where rooms chart a family’s progress through modernity. The chapter on Jacob’s Room tells the story of an absence, reading the novel’s university rooms in conjunction with women’s struggle for education at Cambridge. Finally, rooms are shown to map out a geo-history of the self in “A Sketch of the Past,” weaving personal history and wartime trauma.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available