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Title: Building a new world : Virginia Woolf and the professions
Author: Chan, T. Y.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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This dissertation investigates Woolf’s engagement with the professions and their values, tracing their influence on both the form and content of her work. It explores Woolf’s relationship with what she called, in the typescript of Between the Acts (1941), “[t]he rise of the professional class” in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Britain. I argue that a concern with the professions underlay three of her works, The Years (1937), Three Guineas (1938), and Between the Acts (1941). I also investigate the importance to Woolf of two specific professions the medical profession, and what she called “the profession of literature.” Chapter one focuses on The Years and Three Guineas, and makes use of manuscript versions of The Years to show that Woolf’s ambivalent feelings towards women’s entry into the professions not only informed her political views in Three Guineas, but also shaped her aesthetic decisions throughout the extensive rewriting process of The Years. The chapter argues that the vision which underlies The Years is possibly even more sweeping and radical than the solutions proposed in Three Guineas, and shows how Woolf’s views of the professional system became the basis for her vision of freedom in a new type of society. Chapter two investigates the representation of doctors’ power in Mrs Dalloway (1925), asking how and why Woolf questioned the validity and source of such power, and why this was so important to Woolf. Chapter three considers Woolf’s concept of “the profession of literature.” Woolf often praised the unprofessional qualities of the writing profession, such as its lack of objective professional qualifications and entrance requirements. These made it one of the most accessible professions for women, but also made financial success ambiguous. Chapter four analyzes the forces which shaped Between the Acts (1941) by exploring the historical background of the 1930s. It shows how the novel engages with the themes of specialization, money and war.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available