Published on March 4, 2014
Class 17 Ewrt 2
AGENDA Section # 4: Privilege and Perspective Discussion: Woolf's “Shakespeare’s Sister" Bio Rhetorical Strategies Questions for Critical Reading QHQ Essay #4
Who is Virginia Woolf?
A Brief Biography Adeline Virginia Woolf was born January 25, 1882, into a large family, in London, England. She grew up in an atmosphere conducive to her future career as a writer since her father, Leslie Stephen, was a respected and well-known intellectual and writer. Although she was not sent to a university as were her brothers, she was able to educate herself thoroughly by delving into the volumes of her father's vast library.
Woolf grew up during a period of intense feminist activity in London and was an active member of various women's organizations. By the time she came into her own as a writer, significant advances had been made in women's rights. By 1918, a limited franchise (vote) had been granted to women in England. Also, since World War I (1914-18) had thinned the ranks of working men, women had begun to enter the professions in large numbers. Woolf began her career by writing literary criticism, published her first novel in 1915, and published both fiction and nonfiction copiously until her suicide in 1941.
She is well known internationally for her many superb novels and collections of essays. A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938) are important feminist tracts written by Woolf. Woolf and the man who would become her husband, Leonard Woolf, were part of a group of artists, writers, and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group. This group met regularly at Woolf and her brother's house in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London before Woolf married, when she was still known as Virginia Stephen. After their marriage, the Woolfs began a small publishing house, Hogarth Press, in 1917.
After Virginia Woolf met fellow writer Vita Sackville-West in the early 1920s, the two women had a romantic affair that lasted for a number of years. Virginia and Vita first met at a dinner party in 1922. After learning that Vita was a writer, Virginia invited her to publish a novel with her small press, Hogarth Press. Vita was from an aristocratic family, the Sackville-West’s of Sevenoaks in Kent where they lived in their ancestral home called Knole house. Vita and her husband, who were both bisexual and both writers, had an open marriage.
Knole: Sackville Estate
Woolf suffered bouts of depression throughout her life. After each bout, especially as her life advanced, she worried that the next time she might not return to full sanity. It was this fear, combined with her sense of horror at the events of World War II (1939-1944), that led her to take her own life. She drowned herself in the river Ouse in Sussex, England, on March 28, 1941.
Get into your groups!
In groups, Discuss “Shakespeare’s Sister” From Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own Consider her rhetorical strategies, the essay’s content, and the “Questions for Critical Reading” (page 776)
Which Rhetorical Strategies Does Woolf Use?
Rhetorical Strategies Scenario Simile Controlled and cool tone Allusion Politeness
Content: “Shakespeare’s Sister”
o Woolf imagines the career of of Shakespeare's fictional sister, Judith. What happens to Judith, and why? o How does Judith's fate show that "genius" is not above history and material circumstance? o What was granted to Shakespeare that would not have been granted to a sister with equal potential?
o Why were men so prosperous and women so poor? o What conditions are necessary for the creation of works of art? o Are the obstacles in the way of women’s success also in the way of the Working Classes? o Woolf has sometimes been criticized for being elitist: how does Woolf’s class position affect her views? o Are her theories about writing and poverty—for both men and women—valid today?
Questions for Critical Reading
• How did Elizabethan gender roles limit opportunities in literature? • Why does Woolf begin by referring to an eminent historian?
• Why does history treat sixteenthand seventeenthcentury women with so little notice? • What is Woolf’s point regarding the behavior of Oscar Browning?
Questions •Why does Woolf worry over the relation of opinions to facts?
What is the difference between the way women are represented in history and the way they are depicted in fiction? Why does Woolf have Judith Shakespeare become pregnant?
QHQs: Woolf • Q : Why does Woolf use an imaginary sister for Shakespeare to compare a man and a woman’s life to explain the limitations of women? • Q: Would this example be as effective if Judith had been born into a wealthy family? • Q: Why is a father “shamed” when his daughter refuses to marry? • Q: How would an Elizabethan era wife react to her daughter refusing to marry?
QHQ: Woolf • Q: Why does Virginia Woolf think that women who have a talent in writing will end up killing themselves? • Q: Does “Judith Shakespeare” appear in our society today? • Q: Did Judith Shakespeare kill herself because she became pregnant? Or was it because her desire to become an actress and writer caused her to kill herself since she had to always hide her works from people?
QHQs: Plato • Q: Does Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave actually depict the situation that we are in today? • Q: How is it possible that people can believe in illusion and accept it as reality? • Q. Why do people choose to remain blind from the truth and reality? • Q: Is it better to live in ignorance?
Options: Essay # 4 Will be an in-class essay in response to either Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” Or Woolf’s “Shakespeare’s Sister”
Essay #4: Class 19 You will respond to one of several prompts provided. There will be prompts addressing each Plato and Woolf. Your essay will be between 500 and 750 words. The number of pages will depend on your handwriting! You will have two hours to write. Please bring a clean, large Blue Book: (Approx. 8x10). You can buy them at the bookstore. You may write with either a number 2 pencil (dark lead) or blue or black pen.
Prepare for essay test 4 Post # 32 QHQ: How can we apply the ideas of Plato and Woolf to A Game of Thrones? Make sure to include textual support in your post. You might consider how Woolf’s notions can be extended beyond the realm of women.
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1. End of quarter plan Group Discussions: Perspectives and AGame of Thrones Introduce Essay #5 In-class writing ...
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