Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

English

Advisor(s)

Carrie Hintz

Committee Members

Mario DiGangi

Rebecca Mlynarczyk

Subject Categories

Children's and Young Adult Literature | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles

Keywords

Shakespeare, Woolf, Modernism, Memory

Abstract

This dissertation maps the relationship between Virginia Woolf’s fiction and essays, and William Shakespeare’s person and plays. I argue that Woolf’s writing is intended as an interactive practice of cultural memory, challenging her readers to become responders and to engage critically with the canon. I further argue that Woolf offers herself as inheritor of a literary practice that actively seeks to shape the values and social ideology of the time. The introduction defines three modes of memory operating in Woolf’s work: memory as opiate; memory as political instrument; and memory as dialectic. The first chapter shows the cultural memory of Shakespeare in Woolf’s time as both opiate and instrument, and traces Woolf’s reaction against such reduction in “A Room of One’s Own.” The second chapter examines Woolf’s use of direct allusion and quotation in her early novels, culminating with her masterful use of the dialectic memory of Shakespeare to critique the British Empire in Mrs. Dalloway. The third chapter examines The Years and Three Guineas as Woolf’s effort to engage with the memorial project of a Shakespearean history play. Finally, the last chapter considers Woolf’s masterpiece, The Waves, as her own retelling of Hamlet, an elegy for an empire that she knows must fall, and an effort to define the succeeding narrative.

 
 

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