Where to begin? How to write something interesting and readable about a week’s experience that was generally so positive?
Virginia Woolf is a serious and brilliant writer and this course treated her as such – making sure that lectures, tutorials, talks and visits were all of a high quality. It made one feel truly respected as a student and showed such respect for Woolf.
We experienced this from the beginning with the lectures. The hour and half required you, the student, to concentrate and follow closely and if you did so the rewards were great. For myself, I gained some whole new perspectives on works I have read and loved. For example, Alison Hennegan explored the different approaches taken by Girton and Newnham Colleges in relation to A Room of One’s Own. Trudi Tate discussed parenting in To The Lighthouse – in other words not just an understanding of Mrs Ramsay herself , but also her impact on her children and her wider world – and all in the cultural context of the times.
Susan Sellers lectured brilliantly on Mrs Dalloway, managing to convey a wealth of information in a clear way that I followed throughout. Dame Gillian Beer took us on a fascinating journey of different experiences of The Waves that I find myself still reflecting on days later. Kabe Wilson really won us over to his unique project while challenging us and all that was around us at the time.
The supervisions were also truly valuable – the focus and the concentration of the discussions and the opportunity to share thoughts and hypotheses with only 3 others – one of my fellow students noticed something about Mrs Dalloway that gave us a whole new insight into Clarissa.
The trips were always relevant to the course and the experience – and provided some amazing opportunities, including the room in Girton College where Woolf spoke in 1928 which really has to be seen to be believed and, for me most excitingly of all, getting inside 46 Gordon Square in Bloomsbury. You could feel the presence of Woolf, Bell, Keynes and the others. It was a moment that will remain with me always.
Finally, something about my fellow students. Sharing a passion with a group is a wonderful experience and the fact that we were a true mix – of genders, nationalities, and also of academics and non-academics – created something quite powerful and only reinforced what we had in common while encouraging us to hear and gain from the different perspectives to our own.
So, a week that far surpassed my expectations and reminded me that a love of Woolf adds so much to my life and the lives of others.
Adam Chugg, July 2016