Year of Study in Programme: Second
Supervisor: Dr Andrew Monnickendam
Area/Topic of Research: Modernism, War Writing
Title/Provisional Title of Thesis: Reassessing Virginia Woolf’s War Writing and its Impact on Contemporary War fiction
Short Abstract: The presence of war in Virginia Woolf’s fiction is undeniable and it represents a question that has intrigued and still engages literary critics today. However, the treatment of her oeuvre from literary criticism over the years has not identified it as war writing but as a narrative which dealt with war and trauma, as a matter in the background, and which lacked direct depiction of warfare. Thus, I aim to reassess Woolf’s different approaches to war, particularly, in her late novels: The Waves (1931), The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941). What I intend to demonstrate is that what we can find in these novels are not only war references but war writing at its most diminished, what Kate McLoughlin defines as “not-writing” about war (2011). Consequently, through several rhetorical tropes, Woolf seems to deliberately divert attention away from war with the inevitable result that the true target, as McLoughlin suggests, eventually becomes clear. In the light of this, my thesis explores how through silence and diversion Virginia Woolf attempts to overcome the anxieties of portraying what had seemed so far unrepresentable and yet so imminent.