Virginia Woolf in Cambridge summer course, July 2016

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.

Trudi Tate and Ericka Jacobs, Directors

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.

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.

Trudi Tate and Ericka Jacobs
Directors, Literature Cambridge

Previous Study Days at Stapleford Granary

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.

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.

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.