The Novels of Virginia Woolf

Ref: C3527678

This course will explore a range of writing of by one of the most popular writers of the modernist period. Woolf produced work that was innovative and writing which has had an enduring appeal since it was first published.

Additional information about this course

NB There is no session on 30th May

Course aim

This course is designed to study the writing of Virginia Woolf and will include some of her novels, essays, and short stories.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

This course will begin with an introduction to Virginia Woolf and then move through the examination of some of her short stories, a number of her novels before, finally, looking at extracts from some of her essays. Woolf was one of the most significant figures of the London literary scene and of modernist writing. She experimented with stream of consciousness writing and used her work to experiment with new techniques in the writing of fiction. We will explore Woolf's exploration of the psychological background of her characters, look on how she spoke on issues relating to class, the position of women, the role of marriage in society and documented a changing, modernising society through her writing.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. Have developed their awareness and knowledge of the writing of Virginia Woolf. 2. Gain an understanding of some of the social, cultural and historical contexts influencing modernist writing. 3. Be conversant with formal aspects of what made Woolf a modernist writer and understand the experimental aspects of her work. 4. Be able to formulate their own ideas and responses to a wide range of work by Woolf. 5. Be confident in class participation and in the critical evaluation of primary source material.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Progress will be assessed in a number of ways. Seminar participation will be an indicator of growing confidence in discussing these texts and tutor and fellow student response to student contribution will encourage and stimulate increased participation. There will be a range of group and pair activities set during tutorials where students will be able to demonstrate their developing understanding of the texts and the issues surrounding them. Contributions in all forms will receive tutor response so that all students are confident that their developing awareness and understanding of the texts is being assessed and receiving constructive and encouraging feedback.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

Students will need to have a copy of each text available to them on the appropriate week. The text can be in the form of hard copy or on an electronic device. Pens and paper for note taking would also be needed.

Reading and information sources

It is desirable that students have read the appropriate text by the week we are studying it. The course will be structured as follows - Week One: Introduction and short stories 'The Mark on the Wall', 'A Society' and 'The Shooting Party' (these can be found in the Oxford World's Classic collection 'The Mark on the Wall and Other Short Fiction but other versions or collections are acceptable). Week Two and Week Three: Night and Day. Week Four: Mrs Dalloway. Week Five: The Waves. Week Six: The Years. Week Seven: Extracts from essays by Woolf including 'A Room of One's Own', 'Sketch of the Past', 'The Feminine Note in Fiction', 'Women Novelists' and 'Women and Fiction'. A handout containing the relevant extracts from these essays will be given to students in week one. Students are, of course, at liberty to obtain their own copies of the essays in full should they wish but it isn't necessary. Any edition of these texts is acceptable.

What could the course lead to?

This course contains just a small sample of the work produced by this prolific writer. Students for whom this course provides a first introduction to gothic fiction will feel confident, on completion of the course, to tackle other work by this writer. Further courses that broaden the range of work by Woolf to be studied may be offered in the future for which this course would provide an excellent background.

Download full course outline

The Novels of Virginia Woolf Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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