Alyssa J. O’Brien, Ph.D.  Fall 2000
Email: Cornell University
Office hours: TR 1-2:30 or by appt
in 360 Goldwin Smith Hall
Department of English
Class Meets: TR 11:40 am -12:55 pm  in Lincoln Hall B08

ENG 105-4: Women and Writing: Revisiting Virginia Woolf


Course Description

What does Woolf’s view on gender and artistry mean to us today?  Who was Judith Shakespeare? Do artists still need a room of their own and money in order to write? Why are contemporary male and female artists returning to Woolf in recent remakes of Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando? We’ll consider these questions and more in this course. We’ll read three of Virginia Woolf’s key texts, A Room of One’s Own, Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando, as well as two recent novels that recreate Woolf’s writing from late twentieth-century male perspectives. We’ll look at two film adaptations and numerous multi-media reproductions of Woolf’s work. Assignments include a variety of short essays and a final project. Jump to schedule.

Course Requirements

Unlike many other courses you might take at Cornell, this course is designed as a writing workshop and requires class participation in all activities. You’ll be analyzing writing in class, sharing drafts, and responding to material covered only during class sessions. Since you can’t complete the writing assignments and projects without being present, attendance is mandatory. Absences and a lack of participation will jeopardize your grade for the course.

This course is centrally concerned with responses to Virginia Woolf and with this in mind, you’ll have the opportunity to produce short responsive essays throughout the semester. You’ll be sharing these short essays with a partner who will respond to your thoughts at the start of the class before we open up for discussion.  You'll also have the opportunity to develop longer written analyses of the course material. You’ll be sharing your drafts for these longer essays in writing groups, where your constructive feedback will help your peers rework and rewrite each piece.  The writing assignments are set up to build upon one another, so please keep all your work in one binder or folder and bring it to class with you.  We’ll construct the final writing project from this binder at the end of the course.

Note: All assigned work should be typed, proofread carefully, and turned in on time. Please take a moment to record the writing assignments from the syllabus into your personal calendar.  Check out the writing resources for extra help with writing basics.

If at any time you’d like to talk to me about the course material, your writing, or class discussions, please feel free to contact me.   I do ask you to visit me at least once during the semester during office hours and once during an officially scheduled conference.  I am also happy to set up appointments; email me so we can work out something that’s best for both of us.

Required Texts:

available at the bookstore and through or barnes and noble

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Virginia Woolf, Orlando

one copy of each text is also available on reserve

Michael Cunningham, The Hours

Robin Lippincott, Mr. Dalloway


also required: Ann Raimes, Pocket Keys for Writers  



Week 1: Introduction

 Week 2: A Room of One’s Own

Week 3: Orlando Week 4: Putting Orlando on Film Week 5: Writing about Orlando Week 6: Creating Work of One’s Own Week 7: Fall Break and Film Week 8: Comparing the text and film of Mrs. Dalloway Week 9: More Mrs. Dalloway

Week 10: Responding to Mrs. Dalloway

Week 11: Men writing about Woolf’s Characters Week 12: Woolf for Today Week 13: Woolf on the Web Week 14: Twenty-First Century Woolf

Study Week:    Optional Class Reunion

Writing Resources:

Walk-In Service and tutorials. 174 Rockerfeller Hall. Director, Mary Gilliland.

Discoveries. Magazine of award-winning student essays to use as models.

Come see me during office hours! Or set up an appointment to discuss your writing.

Just for fun:  Visit the International Virginia Woolf Society website

                    Visit the Virginia Woolf Web

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Copyright ©July 2000 Alyssa J. O'Brien
Last Modified: August 24, 2000