EN3VW-Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Madeleine Davies

Email: m.k.davies@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
«p»'A thing there was that mattered.' Virginia Woolf is the literary 'grandmother' of contemporary feminisms. This module provides students with knowledge and understanding of selected novels and essays by Virginia Woolf, and explores key issues including narrative experimentalism, versions (and subversions) of 'reality', and her radical challenges to concepts of boundaries, hierarchies and sexualities. The module balances Woolf's novels with her critical essays and 'political' writing and discussion of Bloomsbury is incorporated throughout. The module demystifies Woolf's work and brings students towards a clear understanding of her novels and ideas. Students will demonstrate their developing readings in a learning journal that they will generate throughout the term and submit at the end of the Autumn term. The assessed essay will be submitted at the beginning of the Spring Term and there is no exam for this module.«/p»


This module is designed to provide students with knowledge and understanding of the work of Virginia Woolf in its Bloomsbury and Modernist contexts and to develop critical awareness of a range of circulating impulses. Students will acquire an appreciation and  understanding of the selected texts, and will become familiar with a variety of critical readings of them.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Assessable outcomes By the end of the module students will be able to: • exercise skills of close textual analysis, and demonstrate an understanding of the texts selected for study • select, extend and challenge established critical readings of Woolf. • engage with the ‘challenges’ implicit in Woolf’s writing. • construct and express coherent critical arguments vocally and in writing.

Additional outcomes:

Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also learn to use the VLE 'Learning Journal' resource efficiently and in ways capable of developing their engagement with the module and their learning outcomes.

Outline content:

The module addresses selected novels, essays, and short stories of Virginia Woolf. These will be read critically in the context of related modernist developments in the visual arts and literature. Central to the module will be ideas involved in Woolf’s challenge to narrative convention, her interrogation of patriarchal values (and the narrative expression of them), her re-perception and relocation of time and ‘space’, and her re-inscription of notions of hierarchies and boundaries. Her relations with artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and the critics Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry are often examined in the light of her literary approaches and techniques. Novels studied on this module usually include The Voyage Out, Jacob's Room, and Mrs Dalloway; the extended novel-essays, A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas are also included, as well as a range of essays and critical pieces, for example, 'Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown', 'Modern Novels', 'Character in Fiction', 'Memories of a Working Women's Guild', 'Professions for Women', and 'Street Haunting'.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Three seminar hours weekly, for which students are required to undertake preparatory reading. Students are also entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative written work. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 30 1
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study 129.5 39
Total hours by term 160.00 40.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Project output other than dissertation 50

Other information on summative assessment:

Summative Assessment Methods (%) - work which always contributes towards the overall module mark: there is one assessed  (summative) essay on this module (2500 words) submitted at the beginning of the Spring Term. This essay produces 50% of the mark for this module. The Learning Journal produces the other 50% of the mark for this module and it is submitted at the end of the Autumn Term.

Formative assessment methods:

Formative Assessment Methods - work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark. Students will select and submit 2 entries of their learning journal for their formative assignment.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by 22 August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Students will need to buy the primary texts for the module, that is, those texts used for seminar discussion. All the individual essays are contained within a single volume which is a required purchase and there are four additional novels to buy. The library holds some copies and electronic versions but students generally prefer to own their primary texts. The library has significant sticks of secondary reading materials and students do not need to buy these.

    Key Readings List:
    You can view a Key Readings list for this module here: http://readinglists.reading.ac.uk/lists/7A769BB2-9451-57F4-3633-A0E45D91B8EF N.B. Reading lists may change before the module starts.

    Last updated: 4 April 2017

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