EN3VW-Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Summer term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Madeleine Davies

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

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Virginia Woolf is a cornerstone of Modern Literature, and a reference point for women’s writing.  This module provides students with knowledge and understanding of selected novels and essays by Virginia Woolf, and explores key issues including her challenges to concepts of boundaries, hierarchies, sexualities and difference, and her attention to debates concerning the social, political, cultural and economic marginalisation of women. The module emphasises Woolf’s novels, but seminars are also devoted to her critical essays and ‘political’ writing. Discussion of ‘Bloomsbury’ ethics and art weaves throughout the module. The debates included in the module connect with pacifism, social justice, the writing of the city, psychoanalysis, the challenge to heteronormativity, the body, and the tension between female creativity and procreativity.


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

Assessable learning 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 socio-cultural and political debates positioned in Woolf’s writing.

  • form a strong sense of the historical context of the inter-war period

  • construct and express coherent critical arguments in the Learning Journal and particularly in the Assessed Essay. Students are also encouraged to experiment with form and style in the Learning Journal.

Additional outcomes:

Written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also learn to use IT resources efficiently:  

The seminar preparation documents and ongoing announcements regarding sources of information will be published on Blackboard and the Learning Journal and Assessed Essay links are also collected here. All work will be assessed and graded online. A Woolf-related ‘Box of Broadcasts’ is also available on Blackboard and a Talis reading list is linked to the ‘Virginia Woolf’ module site. Students are expected to use the VLE consistently throughout the module.

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 will be discussed, as appropriate, in the light of her literary approaches and techniques.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught through one three hour seminar per week, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Formative assessment is via either feedback on the early stages of the Learning Journal OR a formative essay (students cannot choose to receive feedback on both). 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

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

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:

Students will nominate two entries from the developing learning journal and feedback will be provided.  A mark will not be provided on the Learning Journal at formative stage, but indicative feedback will be given. Feedback on a formative essay can be selected as an alternative (a list of titles is posted on Blackboard). Student cannot choose to have both the early stages of the earning Journal and a formative essay assessed at the formative stage. All assessment and feedback is online. The Assessed Essay is marked via Turnitin and the Learning Journal is marked via Blackboard.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment 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.

    Last updated: 5 November 2018


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