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From pen to print: Virginia Woolf, materiality and the art of writing

Jenkins, Amber Rose 2018. From pen to print: Virginia Woolf, materiality and the art of writing. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis interrogates the relationship between the material conditions of Virginia Woolf’s writing practices and her work as a printer and publisher at the Hogarth Press. While the role played by the Press in the intellectual and literary innovations of modernism has been well-documented, less attention has been paid to its influence upon Woolf’s own literary experimentalism. By examining its effect on the material and visual aspects of her compositional processes, from the manuscript drafts to the physical construction of her printed works, this thesis explores how her involvement in the crafting of her publications (including practices of writing, editing, printing and binding) enabled her to situate her fictions alongside the visual and material innovations of modernism. Underpinned by an engagement with Bloomsbury epistemology and aesthetics, it aims to contribute to understandings of Woolf’s textual practices in the context of early twentieth-century visual and material cultures. The thesis examines several of Woolf’s texts printed between 1917, the year the Hogarth Press was established, and 1931, the year in which The Waves, often considered her most experimental work, was published. By drawing on the field of print culture and the materialist turn in Woolf scholarship, it, firstly, considers Woolf’s early short stories and how these enable her to challenge the distinction between visual and verbal forms of representation. Chapter two examines the extent to which her short stories, as well as her embodied experience of printing them, shaped the form of Jacob’s Room. The manuscript version of Mrs Dalloway is the focus of chapter three, and it suggests that the novel can be considered a palimpsest in the way that earlier versions of text reverberate in the published edition. This chapter also offers new ways of thinking about Woolf’s conceptualisation of textuality as fluid rather than fixed. Woolf’s use of colour in her writing is given particular attention in the final two chapters of the thesis. Chapters on To the Lighthouse and The Waves reveal how these visual signifiers enable her to weave a feminist-materialist discourse into the textures of her work. In establishing a connection between Woolf’s literary concerns with materiality and her feminist politics, this thesis argues that her use of objects, colours and forms work to reinsert the forgotten histories of women in the pages of her published texts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 July 2018
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2019 02:05

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