Reading a Room of One's Own

Study Day, Saturday 15 September 2018, 11.00 am–5.00 pm

Price: £80.00 / £70.00 students. Lunch, tea and coffee provided.
Venue: Stapleford Granary, Bury Road, Stapleford, Cambridge CB22 5BP
Bookings are open.

CAMcard holders and members of Virginia Woolf societies can book at the student price. Please bring proof of status to the event.

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A Room of One's Own (1929) is regarded as Virginia Woolf's most influential book. What are her main ideas in the book, and how do they speak to us today? Three leading Cambridge lecturers will lead us through different approaches to the book, looking at the rich historical context in which Woolf was writing.

We will explore key ideas in this fascinating work, which still inspires readers today.

The day includes three lectures and a round-table seminar. Tea and coffee and a light lunch are included in the price.

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Alison Hennegan, Women and Education
In A Room of One's Own, Woolf describes visiting a men's college and a women's college in 'Oxbridge', based quite closely on the Cambridge colleges which she knew well. Alison Hennegan will discuss the importance of women's education in the book. What were the aims of the women's colleges established in the 19th century? Girton College was founded in 1869; Newnham College in 1871. What were their different views of women and education, and how does this context inform Woolf's ideas?

Trudi Tate, After the First World War
Trudi Tate will explore what Woolf has to say about the First World War in A Room of One's Own. For Woolf, as for many intellectuals of the period, the war changed things very profoundly. How had European civilisation come to destroy itself this devastating conflict? Indeed, did the war throw the very idea of civilisation into question?

The need to rebuild fractured societies and to secure a just peace were surely the most pressing issues for Britain and for all of Europe in the 1920s. Women must be part of that process. How did the war alter our perception of the world, and where would we go next? What part might literature play in this process?


Frances Spalding, The Geography Within A Room of One's Own

What does 'room' mean in Woolf's title, A Room of One's Own? This causes problems for those wanting to translate the title into French. The French word chambre doesn't quite catch her meaning, nor does salle. And if piece is used there is a danger of confusing A Room of One's Own with Three Guineas, because piece also means 'coin'.

This lecture asks what Woolf meant by the word 'room' and what mental geography it implies. We then move outwards, into the geography inhabited by her narrative and we will look at the contrast between the benign but protected landscape of Cambridge and the more demotic landscape of London, as the narrator goes in search of the truth about women.

About our lecturers.