Tues, 3/01, class: Read Woolf, Chapter 5. Like Judith Shakespeare, Mary Carmichael is a fictional character invented by Woolf, and Life’s Adventure is not a real novel. Be ready to answer the following questions: Why does you think Woolf (nearly) concludes her essay by talking about a fictional author and book, particularly since she spent Chapter 4 discussing actual ones? What sort of point might Woolf be trying to make by contrasting Judith Shakespeare and Mary Carmichael?
A reader? How do the books she discusses in chapter 3 differ from those in chapter 2?
A storyteller? How does the story about Shakespeare’s sister differ from the one she tells about Mary Beton?
In groups: Make a brief outline of the first three chapters of A Room. Note the subject of each chapter—its materials, what its about— and also the point that Woolf seems to be trying to make in each, the idea she wants to drive home. Then see if you can describe how these three chapters develop “a train of thought” How does the thinking in one chapter lead into the next?
Thurs, 2/25, class: Read Woolf, Chapter 4. Don’t worry if you haven’t read many of the authors that Woolf writes about. Focus instead on this question: According to Woolf, what are some of the reasons that, historically, women have found it harder to write than men? For the reading quiz, I will ask you to name at least four different problems that Woolf identifies.
Fastwrite a ¶, beginning with, “Here’s how I plan to use Woolf’s approach in writing about . . . ” Then share your fastwrites in groups of four. Listen closely for other ideas about how to approach p1. Stealing such ideas is allowed, encouraged even
Your task here is to write a first, preliminary draft of an essay “in the spirit or mode of Virginia Woolf”.
I’m asking you to write this first piece when you’ve only read about a third of A Room of One’s Own. You’ll have the chance to work with other parts of the book in p2 and p3.
In order to begin work, you’ll need to come up with: (1) a topic, a question or problem or issue that you want to write about, and (2) an approach, something you’ve noticed that Woolf does as a writer that you’d like to try out in your own work.
Aim for a draft of at least 1,000 words. (The final version of your first essay should run 1,500 words or so.) Focus for now on making a productive use of Woolf, on using her approach to generate some interesting writing of your own. You’ll have three opportunities (p1, p2, p3) to write this sort of preliminary draft—so take some chances, experiment, see what works. You can decide in the next few weeks what parts of these three early pieces you want to keep, cut, or develop.
Even still, be professional. Think of a good title for your essay. Document your sources. Edit your prose for clarity and proofread it for correctness.
Finally, please add a brief note to your essay in which you reflect on how you tried to write “with” Woolf. Which aspects of her approach did you adopt? Which did you adapt? (You can simply hit the return key a few times after the end of your piece and add this note.)
Please title your document <lastname p1.docx> and post it to your shared Google Drive folder for this course. Deadline: Mon, 2/22, 11:00 am.
Reread the first page of A Room of One’s Own (p. 5). For most of us Woolf’s writing probably feels unusual, indirect, perhaps a little difficult. I’d like to try to trace the sources of that feeling. Working with a partner, highlight at least five different moments on that first page that strike you as somehow surprising or interesting. Be ready to talk about at least one of them to the whole group.
Fastwrite: Read over the lists generated during our last class. Pick one idea that speaks strongly to your experiences with school writing. Say why (without simply repeating your story from Tuesday). Then pick another idea that you have some questions about, that doesn’t align as strongly with your experiences. Say why.
Questions About This Course
What to Expect
Terms to Know: Serif and Sans Serif
Tues, 2/16, class: Read Chapter 1 of A Room of One’s Own (5–26). Mark any passages that strike you as either interesting or puzzling. There will be a quiz, which will serve as your exit ticket for class.
Tell a story about a good experience you’ve had with writing in school—a moment when you learned something useful or felt successful or had some fun. Don’t simply offer the lesson or moral of your tale. Show what happened. Set the scene, describe the people involved, show how events unfolded. Try to tell your story in a way that lets your readers understand your point without needing you to explain it to them. I will ask you to read this piece to introduce yourself to the class.
Listen and take notes as your classmates read their stories. See if you can identify some patterns in what they say, some common experiences with writing.
Form groups of 3 or 4. Drawing on your notes, create a list of at least four or five conditions that you all agree seem to lead to good experiences with writing in school. Make the items on your list as interesting and un-obvious as you can. This list will be your exit ticket, so make sure it is legible and that the names of all group members are on it.