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Writer as Reader Workshops

Workshop is cancelled. Discovering Voice: Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own

December 7, 2013

In the last few pages of A Room of One’s Own, Woolf encourages her readers to “write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast.” As teachers, we know that Woolf’s classic text has inspired generations of writers to find their voice and story. Our students, however, are often bewildered by Woolf’s stream-of-consciousness style as well as her many references to British writers they may not recognize. But if we enter Woolf’s text as a piece of writing about writing and the magic of discovering voice, students may find another entry point for understanding her work. Women of color writers such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Edwidge Danticat, and Toni Morrison have each written about the process of finding voice and a room of their own as well. For example, Anzaldúa grapples with “mestiza consciousness” in the same way that Woolf finds definition for the “androgynous mind.” Danticat writes “dangerously” as a Haitian immigrant in the same way that Woolf crosses borders in male spaces. Morrison challenges our memory and imagination in the same way that Woolf plays with both. For all of these writers, including Woolf, encountering identity is central to their work as well. In this workshop, we’ll re-discover the dynamism of Woolf’s text alongside writers who are still asking the same questions she did, all within different cultural contexts, time periods, and political circumstances. Using writing-to-read practices, we’ll gain new understandings—personal, imaginative, and analytical—about the life of the writer’s mind finding its way on the page.

 Text: Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (any edition)