'Imperfect adumbrations' : boys, men, and masculinities in the work of Virginia Woolf
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This thesis will suggest how Woolf scholarship’s rich exploration of Virginia Woolf’s representations of girls, women and femininities may be complemented by more systematic feminist study of constructs of masculinities, as they appear in her work. Elaborating the concept of the ‘private brother’, the figure of a form of maleness that the daughters of educated men ‘have reason to respect’, but that Three Guineas’ narrator stipulates is ‘sunk’ by men’s exposure to society and replaced by the ‘monstrous male’, my thesis will focus particularly on the representations of boys, men and masculinities in To the Lighthouse, Between the Acts and Woolf’s biography Roger Fry, though I will additionally use material from Woolf’s essays, diaries and letters, as well as from Mrs Dalloway, The Years and The Pargiters. The first section of my thesis will supplement feminist critiques of the education received by upper-middle-class English boys in Woolf’s texts by exploring her representations of young male (inter)subjectivities in the process of being ‘sunk.’ In the second section, I will complicate the narrative trajectories often indicated for these characters in Woolf criticism by proposing that Woolf understood this sinking process as always incomplete: I will argue that Woolf’s adult male characters, even her patriarchs, professors and otherwise educated men, vacillate continually between stances that might be characterised as monstrous maleness and private brotherliness–in both ‘public’ and intimate settings–as one of the preconditions of social existence.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-02-04
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 4th February 2020
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