We were delighted to welcome 21 students from all over the world to our first Virginia Woolf in Cambridge summer course. We were based in the lovely Victorian buildings of Homerton College, where most of the students lived for the week, and where we held lectures and supervisions.
The lectures were as follows:
Trudi Tate, Introduction and Woolf's essay 'How Should One Read a Book?' (1926 version)
Alison Hennegan, A Room of One's Own (1929)
Trudi Tate, To the Lighthouse (1927)
Susan Sellers, Mrs Dalloway (1925)
Gillian Beer, Reading The Waves Across a Lifetime
Most days the lecture was followed by a Cambridge-style supervision. This is a discussion led by an experienced Cambridge supervisor with a group of 3 students. The very small group allows everyone a chance to explore ideas and try out arguments. Through discussion and close reading, we aim to come to a deeper understanding of the book we are studying.
We made excursions to Girton and Newnham Colleges, where we sat in the rooms in which Woolf gave the talks in 1928 which were revised into A Room of One's Own. We went to Grantchester and took tea in the Orchard, under the apple trees. Both excursions were led by Claire Nicholson, who spoke about Woolf's audiences in the women's colleges in 1928, and also explored Woolf's friendship with Rupert Brooke.
We made a trip to London to visit Gordon Square and Tavistock Square, led by Claudia Tobin. We were very fortunate to be permitted to visit inside 46 Gordon Square (now part of Birkbeck College), where we saw some paintings by Vanessa Bell. We enjoyed a reading by Susan Sellers from her novel Vanessa and Virginia and a talk by Kabe Wilson about his project of re-writing A Room of One's Own. We were fascinated to see Kabe's manuscript laid out on a vast table.
Above all, we were fortunate in our students, a wonderful group of people from Germany, Austria, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Israel, Holland, Canada, the US, and Japan, all interested in Woolf from different perspectives, and all generous in sharing their insights. Adam Chugg has written an account of the week from a student's point of view (above).
We are already looking forward to next year!
Trudi Tate, Director, Literature Cambridge