Past summer courses

Woolf's Rooms
16-21 July 2017, Homerton College, Cambridge

The theme for our 2017 Virginia Woolf Summer Course was Woolf's Rooms. We had an amazing week of intensive lectures, supervisions, discussions, and readings. We paid visits to Girton and Newnham Colleges, and heard about the talks Woolf gave there. These talks were then revised to become A Room of One's Own (1929), one of Woolf's most influential books. It was moving to sit in the very rooms in which Woolf spoke to young women undergraduates in 1928. We also went to King's College and to the Fitzwilliam Museum, where we were privileged to see the original manuscript of A Room of One's Own.

Further details of the week can be found on our Facebook page. Sincere thanks to our inspiring teachers, and to our wonderful, enthusiatic students of all ages, from all over the world, who made this such a memorable week.

Course description
Woolf's Rooms July 2017

Why are rooms so important in the writing of Virginia Woolf? Who needs a room of their own, and why? The use of space was, and remains, a political issue. Who has space; how is it used; how is it shared (or not)? What is the relationship between rooms and creativity; rooms and power? The course explored these and many other questions through five key books by Woolf, listed below.

Our speakers included leading scholars Gillian Beer, Sinead Garrigan Mattar, Alison Hennegan, Claire Nicholson, Jane Potter, and Trudi Tate. Some evenings we had readings and talks, including a talk by Kabe Wilson on his remarkable re-writing of A Room of One's Own. Interview with Kabe Wilson here; article here

We studied these books:
A Room of One's Own (1929)
Jacob's Room (1922)
The Waves (1931)
To the Lighthouse (1927)
Between the Acts (1941)


Reading Bloomsbury, 23-28 July 2017
Homerton College, Cambridge

Course description and details of Reading Bloomsbury: here.


Virginia Woolf in Cambridge summer course, July 2016

PB Room whole class use.jpg

Our first course was Virginia Woolf in Cambridge, held in July 2016 in Homerton College, Cambridge. We started each day with a lecture and discussion by a leading Woolf scholar. We heard Alison Hennegan on A Room of One's Own, Susan Sellers on Mrs Dalloway, Trudi Tate on To the Lighthouse and Gillian Beer on Reading The Waves Across a Lifetime. We also looked at some of Woolf's essays, and deepened our knowledge of the context in which she wrote. We thought about Woolf's own education, which was mainly (not entirely) at home. She was extraordinarily well read and well informed. Much of her knowledge came through her own reading, much from intellectual discussions with others. At the same time, she recognised the value of formal education. We visited Girton and Newnham Colleges and sat in the very rooms in which Woolf gave the talks in 1928 which were to become A Room of One's Own.

Most days we had what in Cambridge is called a supervision (in Oxford it is a tutorial). A small group of 2 or 3 students talks for an hour with an experienced Cambridge supervisor. It is an opportunity for an open yet guided discussion, in which students explore ideas quite deeply, listen carefully to other people's thoughts, and develop their skills in reading a literary work in depth, and with precision.

Trudi Tate and Ericka Jacobs, Directors

We had an excursion to the Orchard Tea Room in Grantchester and heard a talk by Claire Nicholson on Woolf's friendship with Rupert Brooke before the First World War, and we visited Bloomsbury in London, led by art historian Claudia Tobin. We enjoyed readings and talks by novelist Susan Sellers and performance artist Kabe Wilson. Throughout the week, students used their spare time to read, think, visit bookshops and colleges, discuss ideas with other students, and to reflect.

One of our students, Adam Chugg, gives further thoughts on the course on our Blog. Another student, Beth Daugherty, has written an account for Blogging Woolf.

For us, one of the most rewarding aspects of the course was the incredibly interesting group of people who came to Cambridge from many parts of the world. Woolf brought together readers who would never otherwise meet, and many strong friendships were formed.

Visit to Bloomsbury, 2016.

Visit to Bloomsbury, 2016.

Trudi Tate and Ericka Jacobs
Directors, Literature Cambridge
July 2016


Praise for Woolf summer course 2016:

• This summer course is one of my top experiences.
• The course is still resonating – I think it was the immersion. The course was a real inspiration.
• Terrific program. I am going to do my best to come back next year ... You did an exceptional job providing something for everyone, no matter their background. A big thank you.
•Thank you so much for this course. It was excellently run and has reinvigorated both my enthusiasm for the Cambridge way and, most importantly, for Woolf’s works.
• Very well organized, enthusiastic staff, diverse range of activities, wonderful location! Thanks for everything!
• Clear speakers whose enthusiasm is engaging and stimulating.


Previous Study Days at Stapleford Granary

17 September 2016. Reading To the Lighthouse. Details below.
25 February 2017. Alice in Space.   Details here.
18 March 2017. Tragedy, Past and Present.   Details here.
29 April. 2017 Reading Pride and Prejudice.    Details here.
13 May 2017. Creative Writing.   Details here.
11 June 2017. Reading The Waste Land.   Details here.
16 September 2017. Reading Mrs Dalloway. Details here.
12 November 2017. Ali Smith and Gillian Beer: Reading and Conversation. Details here.

Reading To the Lighthouse

Our first study day took place on 17 September 2016 with a day on Virginia Woolf's much-loved novel of yearning, loss, love, and mourning, To the Lighthouse (1927). Three Woolf scholars reflected upon the novel from different angles. Dame Gillian Beer explored the wealth of story-telling within To the Lighthouse. Trudi Tate discussed mourning the Victorian mother. Frances Spalding talked about Cézanne, Roger Fry, and visual art in To the Lighthouse.

For a report on the lectures, please see our Blog page for 19 September 2016.

Alice in Space

25 February 2017. A fascinating afternoon of lectures on the rich intellectual world of Lewis Carroll. Dame Gillian Beer discussed some of the ideas in her new book, Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll (Chicago UP, 2016). Zoe Jaques explored the ways in which Carroll wrote about animals. For some ideas from the lectures, see our Blog page, 1 March 2017.


Tragedy: Past and Present

18 March 2017. An inspirational day of lectures by leading Cambridge scholars. The study day gave us a glimpse of the monumental Tragedy paper taught to undergraduates in the English Faculty. For some extracts from the lectures plus a list of further reading, see our Blog page, 19-23 March 2017.