Discussion Questions: A Room of One’s Own
So off we go into the land of feminism for the next two weeks with Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. My starter questions are below, but, as always, anything is on the table for discussion next Friday, April 15th. This is a short one (and it’s readily available online), so I hope you’ll join me in discussing and pondering next week.
Also, just an editorial note: I know this is a great feminist text with so much to discuss related to that topic, but I’ve tried to focus more on the literary questions raised by the text. Woolf raises some amazing points (reading this was remarkably transcendent for me in certain sections) and I’d be happy to discuss patriarchy in literature next week, too, if anyone’s into it, but the starter questions do focus on the ways we readers read rather than patriarchal oppression. Hopefully that’s agreeable to all!
1. The first and most obvious question is one of agreement: do you believe Woolf’s assertion that women simply need a room of their own and “five hundred a year” to be able to write and become equal to men?
2. Woolf notes the lack of autobiographical or background material for all authors prior to the 18th century (and for female authors well into the 19th). What do you make of this lack? Do we as readers have a right to know everything that an author thought about and put into his or her work or is it better to let the work speak for itself, à la Shakespeare?
3. What do you make of Woolf’s idea of an on-going continuity among female authors? She writes that any new female author should be considered “as the descendant of all those other women whose circumstances I have been glancing at and see what she inherits of their characteristics and restrictions.” Do you think this is a useful way to read the writing of women or that it is just another way of furthering the perception of female authors as inherently different from male ones?
Until next week then, Challengers!