Tama Carstensen                                                  Informative Analysis Type

EH 618 –Virginia Woolf

October 11, 2000

Seminar Paper Proposal

The Possibility of an Androgynous Mind


Eileen Sypher suggests that the characters in The Waves attempt, but fail, to represent the androgynous mind that Virginia Woolf called for in A Room of One’s Own (190). Lisa Rado believes that the term “androgyny” has been historically misrepresented (150).  The MLA Bibliography lists over 300 books and articles with androgyny in the title.  This research paper will explore meanings of androgyny in light of Woolf’s view on the concept, centering on the possibility for an androgynous mind to exist as Woolf intended, and whether the characters in The Waves embody that attitude. Woolf theorizes that a writer can create a novel or essay in which the narrator’s voice provides no indication of gender.

I believe the writer’s life experiences influence the way in which the characters of a novel are presented, while the reader’s experiences shape the way in which these characters are understood. The writer’s experiences shape the voice of the narrator. The questions that I will ask and attempt to answer through research are these:

1.      What is Sypher’s analysis of the quest for androgyny?

2.      What are the opposing positions?

3.      Is it too much of a struggle for an author to purposefully create characters with no gender identity in their words?

4.      Do Woolf’s characters speak with an androgynous voice in The Waves? If so, how?

Through literary research and critical analysis, I will provide opposing views on the question of the androgynous mind and apply these views to examples from The Waves.



Works Cited

Rado, Lisa. “Would the Real Virginia Woolf please stand up? Feminist Criticism, the Androgyny Debates, and Orlando.” Women’s Studies 26.2 (1997):  147-170.


Sypher, Eileen B. “The Waves:  A Utopia of Androgyny?” Virginia Woolf: Centennial Essays. Eds. Elaine K. Ginsberg and Laura Moss Gottlieb. Troy: Whitston, 1983.187-213.


Works Consulted

Bazin, Nancy Topping.  Virginia Woolf and the Androgynous Vision.  New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP,1973 .


Cook, Ellen Piel. Psychological AndrogynyNew York: Pergamon, 1985.


Gorsky, Susan. “The Central Shadow: Characterization in The Waves’Modern Fiction Studies. 18 (1972):  449-66.


Graham, J.W. “Point of View in The Waves: Some Services of the Style.” UTQ 39 (1970):  193-211.


Heilbrun, Carolyn. Toward a Recognition of Androgyny.  New York: Knopf, 1973.


—. “Woolf and Androgyny.” Critical essays on Virginia Woolf.  Ed. Morris Beja.  Boston: G.K. Hall, 1985.  55-58.


Hussey, Mark. Virginia Woolf A-Z. New York: Oxford, 1995.


Jones, Ellen-Carol. “Androgynous Vision and Artistic Process in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.” Critical Essays on Virginia Woolf. Boston: Hall. 1985. 227-239.


Marcus, Jane. “Britannia Rules The Waves.” Virginia Woolf: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Margaret Homans. Englewood Cliffs: Prentiss Hall, 1993. 227-248.


McNees, Eleanor, ed. Critical Responses to the Novels The Waves, The Years, and Between the Acts; Modern Evaluations; Comparative Studies. Vol. 4 of Virginia Woolf, Critical Assessments. East Sussex: Helm. 1994.


Vetterling-Braggin, Mary. "Femininity," "Masculinity," and "Androgyny": A Modern Philosophical Discussion.  Totowa, N.J. : Rowman and Littlefield, 1982.


Wall, Kathleen. “Frame Narratives and Unresolved Contradictions in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.” Journal of Narrative Theory. Journal of Narrative Technique (1999): 184-207.


Woolf, Virginia. The Waves. New York: HBJ. 1931


—. A Room of One’s Own. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 1929.