Date of Submission

Spring 2020

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Marisa Libbon

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Virginia Woolf writes in her journal in March 1929 that:

[...]Life is very solid, or very shifting? I am haunted by the two contradictions. This has gone on for ever: will last forever; goes down to the bottom of the world- this moment I stand on. Also it is transitory, flying, diaphanous. I shall pass like a cloud on the waves. Perhaps it may be that though we change; one flying after another, so quick so quick, yet we are somehow successive and continuous- we human beings; and show the light through.

Woolf obsessively journaled her anxieties concerning the linearity of time and the way people are considered products of their time. Constantly occupied with philosophical questions of consciousness, reality and representation, Woolf actively worked to construct the concept of literary Modernism. Her journals and essays largely revolve around a rejection of the Victorian novel, which she characterizes as depicting exterior reality and representing social class relations, while idealizing romantic intimacy. Woolf and her fellow Bloomsbury contemporaries claimed they were consciously revolting against their predecessors and forming a new modern approach at depicting reality. A depiction which consisted of ambiguous temporality, a shift towards the internal, and a philosophical understanding that the human consciousness is an isolated and insular experience. Yet, the writers were unable to recognize how their perpetual anxiety of influence and obsession with their predecessors shaped their writing tremendously. The temporal tension that Woolf explains in her nonfiction bleeds directly into her fictional novels. Understanding the cause and effects of this tension between the present and the past, in relation to Virginia Woolf especially, is the central aim of my project. I place Woolf and her writing in conversation with scholars from different fields in order to analyze the relationship between fictional writing and representation. Both chapters attempt to understand the role fiction plays in the representation of the human experience, and specifically the experience of women. Woolf sought to depict a reality that closed the gap between representation and history, which ultimately allowed her to embed a record of representation into Western ideology.

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