Approaches to Teaching Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway

  • Editor: Eileen Barrett and Ruth O. Saxton
  • Pages: vii & 167 pp.
  • Published: 2009
  • ISBN: 9781603290593 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9781603290586 (Cloth)
Approaches to Teaching Woolfs Mrs. Dalloway Cover

“Whether teaching the novel for the first or twentieth time, whether in an undergraduate survey course or a doctoral seminar on Virginia Woolf, teachers will be thrilled to have such interesting and above all accessible approaches as they explore the novel with their students.”

—Kristin Czarnecki, Virginia Woolf Miscellany

“This Approaches volume will be invaluable: it is rich in accessible resources, alert to the eclecticism of approaches to teaching fiction, rooted in the practical world of the classroom, and it consistently informs its suggestions with the point of view of student responses.”

—Mark Hussey, Pace University

Mrs. Dalloway is considered a central work in Virginia Woolf’s oeuvre and in the modernist canon. It not only addresses historical and cultural issues such as war, colonialism, class, politics, marriage, sexuality, and psychology but also reimagines the novel form. Moreover, Mrs. Dalloway continues to grow in its influence and visibility, inspiring adaptations in film, theater, print, and other media.

Despite Mrs. Dalloway’s continued popularity, many students today find the prose daunting and a barrier to their appreciation and comprehension of the novel. This volume seeks to give instructors a variety of strategies for making Woolf’s work compelling and accessible to students while addressing the diverse ways it has been interpreted. Part 1, “Materials,” reviews editions of Mrs. Dalloway as well as critical and historical resources related to the novel. Part 2, “Approaches,” explores the task of contextualizing this key modernist text in the classroom. Some contributors situate Mrs. Dalloway in its historical time and place, namely, London in the period between the two world wars. Others discuss the novel’s narrative form or interpret it using perspectives from cultural studies, feminism, or queer theory. Still others address the novel’s relation to poems, films, and Victorian novels. Finally, a group of essays discusses the challenges and rewards of teaching the novel in settings both traditional and nontraditional, from a college classroom to a prison.

Meg Albrinck
Marlene A. Briggs
Marcia Day Childress
Beth Rigel Daugherty
Madelyn Detloff
Martha Greene Eads
Anne E. Fernald
Leslie Kathleen Hankins
David Leon Higdon
Ruth Hoberman
James F. Knapp
Antonia Losano
Karen McLeer
Margot Norris
Mary Beth Pringle
Lecia Rosenthal
Victoria Rosner
Judith Seaboyer
Christine W. Sizemore
Nick Smart

Preface (1)

PART ONE: MATERIALS

Eileen Barrett

Editions (7)

London Maps and Walks (9)

Reference Works (10)

Biographies (11)

Mrs. Dalloway Basics (11)

Woolf’s Own Writing (12)

Critical Reception and Changing Perspectives (14)

Narrative, Philosophical, and Psychological (14)

Feminist, Lesbian, and Queer (15)

Cultural, Historical, and Postcolonial (16)

Woolf and Other Writers (17)

Multimedia and Popular Culture (19)

PART TWO: APPROACHES

Introduction (23)

Ruth O. Saxton

Approaching a Modernist Text

Experiencing Modernity in Mrs. Dalloway (27)

James F. Knapp

“The Proper Stuff of Fiction”: Virginia Woolf and the Meaning of the Modern (32)

Lecia Rosenthal

“Life Struck Straight through the Streets”: Mrs. Dalloway as City Novel (39)

Victoria Rosner

On Not Knowing Virginia Woolf (44)

Nick Smart

A Space of Her Own: Women, Spatial Practices, and Mrs. Dalloway (49)

Antonia Losano

Using the Context of War

“Are YOU in This?” Using British Recruiting Posters to Teach Mrs. Dalloway (53)

Meg Albrinck

Circling the Cenotaph: Mrs. Dalloway, Historical Trauma, and the Archive (58)

Marlene A. Briggs

Teaching Mrs. Dalloway as a World War I Novel (64)

Margot Norris

Women and War in Mrs. Dalloway (68)

Anne E. Fernald

Reading Intertextually

Mrs. Dalloway and Carpe Diem Conventions (72)

David Leon Higdon

Mrs. Dalloway and the Long Nineteenth Century (80)

Judith Seaboyer

Reading at the Intersections: Teaching Mrs. Dalloway in a Class on Retellings (85)

Mary Beth Pringle

Teaching Mrs. Dalloway(s) and Film (91)

Leslie Kathleen Hankins

Mrs. Dalloway and the Ideology of Death: A Cultural Studies Approach (97)

Madelyn Detloff

Teaching in Multiple Settings

Wading into the Narrative Stream: Techniques for Two-Year College Readers (102)

Karen McLeer

Drawing Mrs. Dalloway in a Literary Masterworks Course (107)

Ruth Hoberman

“They Have Loved Reading”: Mrs. Dalloway and Lifelong Common Readers (112)

Beth Rigel Daugherty

Overcoming Resistance to Lesbian Readings of Mrs. Dalloway (118)

Christine W. Sizemore

Mrs. Dalloway Goes to Prison (123)

Martha Greene Eads

Practically Speaking: Mrs. Dalloway and Life in the Professions (128)

Marcia Day Childress

Notes on Contributors (133)

Survey Participants (137)

Works Cited (139)

Writings of Virginia Woolf (139)

Other Sources (140)

Index of Names (163)