Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Pat Rogers, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.

Keywords

New Woman, Women's rights, Feminist aesthetics, Night and Day, Jacob's room, The years

Abstract

Interrogating Virginia Woolf and the British Suffrage Movement Gwen Trowbridge Anderson ABSTRACT Much has been written about Virginia Woolf's involvement with feminism and women's rights, but there has been far less exploration about her ties to suffrage. Many of her friends and family are involved in this exploration: Vanessa Stephen Bell, Ethel Smyth, and the Pankhursts (Emmeline, Sylvia, and Cristobel). Other important figures who are relevant to Woolf's work are Sonia Delaunay, Lewis Carroll, and Edmund Spenser. Important concepts like the New Woman, the suffrage movement, feminism, and women's rights are vital to understanding Woolf's involvement with suffrage. This dissertation examines how Woolf used certain descriptive imagery, specifically, suffrage tricolors, rooms, bridges, pillar-boxes, and water as signposts, which subversively point to suffrage and women's rights. Her literary techniques are foregrounded to reveal how involved Woolf was in the suffrage movement and that she showed this involvement in obvious and subtle ways. I uncover suffrage and feminist clues in three of her early novels Night and Day, Jacob's Room, and The Years and compare her use of women's rights in her nonfiction works, A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas. A close analysis of her early writing clearly proves that Virginia Woolf had a plan from the beginning and a prescient view to her thinking about the suffrage movement.

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