A Selected, Annotated Bibliography on A Room of One's Own

Updated August 30, 2000 (but no new entries)
Created July 8, 1997

The MLA bibliography for 1963 through Feb. 1997 lists 71 entries, reduced to 57 
by eliminating dissertations and foreign language publications.   
I selected 29 of these for review, including 13 titles inter-library 
loaned.  The following 25 annotated entries seemed most useful for study 
of Room, and give a sense of the chief directions Woolf scholars have 
taken with this landmark text.  Unless otherwise indicated, these are 
available at the Salmon Library.  Interlibrary loan books (marked ILL) are 
available in my office through about July 21.

Abbott, Reginald.  "Birds Don't Sing in Greek: Virginia Woolf and 'The 
	Plumage Bill.'" Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical 
	Explorations.  Ed. Carol J. Adams and Josephine Donovan.   
	Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1995. 263-89.  Woolf’s 1000-word essay 
	against the Plumage Bill of 1920 (to ban importation of exotic 
	feathers) "is not just Woolf’s ‘earliest feminist polemic’ but the 
	direct prototype of the longer, more developed works, not only in 
	tone but also in the issues that it raises" (265).  ILL

Boehm, Beth A.  "Fact, Fiction, and Metafiction: Blurred Gen(d)res in 
	Orlando and A Room of One's Own." Journal of Narrative Technique  
	22:3 (1992): 191-204.   VW interrupted work on Orlando to write 
	and deliver the lectures later revised as Room.  Boehm compares 
	the first published version, which is rather conventional 
	("Women and Fiction" published in The Forum in March 1929), to 
	the book version, which, like Orlando, blurs genre boundaries and 
	uses both fun and fantasy to question patriarchal facts and values.
  	See also Marcus,  "’Taking the Bull by the Udders.’ "

Burt, John.  "Irreconcilable Habits of Thought in A Room of One's Own and 
	To the Lighthouse."  ELH 49.4 (1982): 889-907. Rpt. Bloom 191-206.  
	Links the arguments of Room to the themes of Lighthouse as 
	examples of Keatsian negative capability.  Includes analytical 
	summary of the argument of Room, showing it to have two 
	unreconcilable arguments, one progressive, the other nostalgic for 
	the past, and concluding that the essay is not an argument but "a 
	portrayal of how a mind attempts to come to terms with its world" 

Courington, Chella:  "Virginia Woolf and Alice Walker: Family as Metaphor 
	in the Personal Essay." Hussey and Neverow  239-45.   
	Compares Room to Walker’s "In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens" and 
	"Beauty" as using similar techniques of the personal essay. ILL

Ezell, Margaret J.M.  "The Myth of Judith Shakespeare: Creating the Canon 
	of Women's Literature." New Literary History: A Journal of Theory 
	and Interpretation 21.3 (1990): 579-592.   Shows how modern 
	anthologies following Room’s lead about the absence of women 
	writers before 1800 perpetuate a false history that should be 
	rewritten to give greater attention to hundreds of women writing 
	in the 16-17th centuries.

Fernald, Anne:  "A Room, A Child, A Mind of One's Own: Virginia Woolf, 
	Alice Walker and Feminist Personal Criticism." Hussey and Neverow 
	245-51.  Compares Room to Walker’s "Beyond the Peacock" and "In 
	Search of Our Mother’s Gardens" to show the two writers’ 
	affinities and that both "define the extreme of feminist personal 
	criticism, demonstrating its power and flexibility as well as its 
	limits" (246). ILL

Fernald, Anne.  "A Room of One's Own, Personal Criticism, and the Essay." 
	Twentieth Century Literature, 40.2 (1994): 165-89.  Places Room 
	in the context of modern critics like Jane Tompkins and Jane 
	Gallop, who use autobiographical material in scholarly writing 
	(hence "personal criticism").  Fernald argues that Woolf uses the 
	personal "to focus the complexity of the idea," and as such is 
	more like T.S. Eliot than Tompkins or Gallop, who she sees as more 
	interested in creating a distinctive persona than in the ideas it 
	might reveal.  See also Woolf’s "The Modern Essay" on Max Beerbohm 
	and the personal in criticism (in The Common Reader. First Series).

Folsom, Marcia McClintock.  "Gallant Red Brick and Plain China: Teaching 
	A Room of One's Own."  College English  45.3 (1983): 254-262.  The 
	author uses Room as the critical basis for a course on "Women in 
	Literature."  The article provides detail on other texts used and 
	how she links them to the arguments and narrative techniques of 

Fox, Alice.  "Literary Allusion as Feminist Criticism in A Room of One's 
	Own." Philological Quarterly. 63.2 (1984): 145-161.  Places Room 
	in the context of a 1920 exchange of letters to the editor between 
	Woolf and Bloomsbury friend Desmond MacCarthy, who argued that 
	there were no great women writers.  Fox links this to literary 
	allusions to Milton, Swinburne, Gray’s "Elegy," and the "Ballad of 
	Mary Hamilton."

Hamilton, James F.  "Woolf's A Room of One's Own." Explicator 39.1 (1981): 
	4-6.  Interprets the tailless cat, not as an image of penis envy 
	or castration, nor as a "complex," but as a feeling of inadequacy 
	which can be removed through, e.g., money that evens up the stakes 
	for women and men.

Hussey, Mark, and Vara Neverow, eds. Virginia Woolf: Emerging Perspectives. 
	New York : Pace UP, 1994. ILL (various entries cross-referenced)

Jones, Ellen Carol.  "Androgynous Vision and Artistic Process in Virginia 
	Woolf's A Room of One's Own."  Critical Essays on Virginia Woolf.   
	Ed. Morris Beja. Boston : Hall, 1985.  227-239.  Woolf treats art 
	as a process of "discovery and disentanglement" that requires an 
	androgynous "synthesizing of subject and object into an artistic 
	whole" (229). ILL

Kamuf, Peggy.  "Penelope at Work: Interruptions in A Room of One's Own."  
	Novel 16.1 (1982): 5-18.  Using The Odyssey and Focault in a 
	deconstructive reading of the zig-zag quality of the narrative, 
	Kamuf emphasizes three "moments . . . where interruption marks the 
	scene of writing" (10): 1) when the scholar enters the nursery or 
	drawing room [87]; 2) the reference to Jane Austen writing in the 
	common sitting room; 3) when "one goes into the room—" [87].

Marcus, Jane.  "Critical Response, I: Quentin's Bogey."  Critical Inquiry 
	11.3 (1985): 486-497.  Links Woolf’s use of "bogey" to the work of 
	Greek scholar Jane Harrison in an argument that the bogey refers 
	to English patriarchal culture, not to Milton himself.  Critiques 
	biographer Quentin Bell for creating a Woolf bogey that is "a 
	fragile, unstable, hysterical suicide" (489), then challenges 
	Bell’s view of Marcus herself and of Woolf.  Bell’s reply follows.

Marcus, Jane.  "Liberty, Sorority, Misogyny." The Representation of Women 
	in Fiction.  Ed. Carolyn G. Heilbrun and Margaret R. Higonnet.  
	Baltimore : Johns Hopkins UP, 1983.  60-97.  Rpt. in Marcus’s 
	Virginia Woolf and the Language of Patriarchy (1987).  Room is 
	Woolf’s attempt to "catapult women into history with a goal of 
	"female liberty, equality, and sorority" that requires the 
	exclusion of men.  Marcus reads Room and Three Guineas in the 
	context of Woolf’s biography, particularly women against whom she 
	rebelled (her mother, Julia Stephen; her aunt Caroline Emilia 
	Stephen; her first cousin Katherine Stephen, principal of Newnham 
	College), all of whom collaborated in their own oppression.  
	Repeats many arguments from Marcus’s other articles on Room 
	(e.g., re Radclyffe Hall, Jane Harrison, and J.K. Stephen). 

Marcus, Jane.  "Sapphistry: Narration as Lesbian Seduction in A Room of 
	One’s Own.  Virginia Woolf and the Language of Patriarchy.  
	Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987.  163-87.  A much shorter version is 
	published as "Sapphistory: The Woolf and the Well." Lesbian Texts 
	and Contexts: Radical Revisions.   Ed. Karla Jay, Joanne Glasgow, 
	and Catharine R. Stimpson.   New York : New York UP, 1990. 164 179.  
	Marcus develops two separate arguments, one about the Well of 
	Loneliness trial and another about Greek scholar Jane Harrison 
	("the great J—H—" Room 17) and misogynist Oscar Browning 
	(Room, chap. 3).  1) Reads Room in relation to the obscenity 
	trial against Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, which was 
	being tried when Woolf wrote Room.  Identifies Judith Shakespeare 
	with Hall (who was actually descended from Shakespeare’s daughter 
	Susanna Hall) as the symbol of the oppressed woman artist, and 
	Room’s fictional narrator (Mary Hamilton) with Mary Llewelyn (the 
	lover of Hall’s main character, Stephen Gordon).  "Sapphistory" 
	is Marcus’s term for the "rhetorical seduction" of the woman 
	reader by the woman writer which Woolf achieves here.  2) By 
	attacking Oscar Browning ("the "philosophical father" of such gay 
	Bloomsbury friends as Forster and Strachey), Woolf attacks 
	homosexual misogyny within her own circle and England generally.   Browning (usually known as "O.B.") was a fellow of King’s College Cambridge who had been fired from Eton, presumably because of improper relations with boys. Giving his full name and Jane Harrison’s initials reverses the power relations.

Marcus, Jane.  "Still Practice, A/Wrested Alphabet: Toward a Feminist 
	Aesthetic." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature  3.1-2 (1984): 
	79-97.  Rpt. Feminist Issues in Literary Scholarship.  Ed. Shari 
	Benstock.  Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987.  79-97.   Marcus asserts 
	that "A Room of One’s Own is the first modern text of feminist 
	criticism, the model in both theory and practice, of a 
	specifically socialist feminist criticism"(79 Benstock).  Marcus 
	derives a critical interpretive practice of reading signs, as in 
	dumb show ("still practice") based on Woolf’s use of the Procne 
	and Philomel myth in Between the Acts, and Shakespeare’s use of it 
	in Titus Andronicus.  Marcus links both to the woman artist’s 
	fear of directly challenging patriarchy, and argues that Woolf 
	regarded women as more democratic readers, writers, and listeners 
	than men.  Marcus critiques deconstructive readings of Woolf by 
	major critics Peggy Kamuf (see above) and Gayatri Spivak because 
	they "assert themselves as superior and isolated from their 
	subject" (89) and by using "father-guides" (Derrida, Freud, 
	Foucault, Descartes) "reinforce patriarchal authority" (89).  
	They should take  Woolf’s advice in Room and avoid male mentors.

Marcus, Jane.  "'Taking the Bull by the Udders': Sexual Difference in 
	Virginia Woolf: A Conspiracy Theory." Virginia Woolf and 
	Bloomsbury: A Centenary Celebration.  Ed. Jane Marcus. Bloomington: 
	Indiana UP, 1987.  146 169.  Originally published in Marcus’s 
	Virginia Woolf and the Language of Patriarchy (1987).   This 
	article is loaded with biographical and textual detail, and 
	elaborate arguments by analogy.   Marcus 1) reads a subversive 
	subtext in Room wherein Shakespeare’s next sister will come from 
	the lower classes; 2) uses the Procne/Philomel myth to show Woolf 
	speaking for her attacked sisters (real and figurative); 
	castrating/silencing the bull is analogous to cutting out 
	Philomel’s tongue; see also Marcus’s "Still Practice" for an 
	elaboration of this); 3) argues that Woolf deconstructs the 
	lecture as a patriarchal form, turning it into a three sided 
	conversation between women (writer/speaker reader audience), 
	modeled on the unconventional Greek scholar Jane Harrison ("the 
	heroine of this text");  4) explores the fishing metaphor in Room 
	and "Professions for Women" (a speech given in January 1931 that 
	was part of the original conception The Years, and was 
	posthumously published in The Pargiters); 5) compares Room to 
	Woolf’s unsuccessful story "A Woman’s College from Outside" 
	(1926), which "fails to share narration with her subject and her 
	audience" (159); and 6) critiques male critics J. Hillis Miller 
	and Geoffrey Hartman for misreading the scene of a man and woman 
	getting into a taxi (chap. 6) and failing to see the entire text 
	as "one of the strongest feminist statements of maleness [and 
	heterosexuality] as other" (160).  The "bull by the udders" phrase 
	comes from a Woolf letter;  Marcus interprets it as a "maternal 
	male" like Leonard Woolf. 

Neverow, Vara . "Reading A Room of One's Own as a Model of Composition 
	Theory." Hussey and Neverow 58-64. Substituting "student" where 
	Woolf uses "woman," Nemerov shows how Room "can be read as a 
	student-centered approach to composition theory . . . [that] 
	focuses on turning writing anxiety into empowerment" (58). ILL

Rosenbaum, S. P. " The Manuscript Versions of A Room of One's Own." 
	Virginia Woolf Miscellany  38 (1991): 4.  ILL 

Rosenbaum, S.P., ed. Virginia Woolf/Women & Fiction: The Manuscript 
	Versions of A Room of One's Own.  Oxford : Blackwell, 1992.   
	Rosenbaum discovered the original handwritten manuscript of Room 
	misidentified in the Fitzwilliam Museum (in Cambridge), 100 pages 
	(5 chapters) titled Women & Fiction, dated March and April 1929.  
	Rosenbaum has identified two separate manuscripts here that 
	probably reflect different drafts, though they fit together as 
	one.   Rosenbaum’s introduction tracks the composition from the 
	Cambridge lectures of 1928 (for which no manuscripts survive), 
	through the March 1929 Forum article "Women and Fiction" to a 
	detailed analysis of the manuscript printed here, which is also 
	compared to the typescript version (archived at Monk’s House).  

Rosenman, Ellen.  "A Fish on the Line: Desire, Repression, and the Law of 
	the Father in A Room of One's Own." Hussey and Neverow 272-77.  
	Links a passage in "A Sketch of the Past" (in which Leslie Stephen 
	tells Virginia he doesn’t like to see fish caught) to the 
	politicized fishing metaphor in Room, arguing that Woolf resolves 
	her conflicts about embodiment by disembodying, and hence losing 
	the fish. ILL

Rosenman, Ellen Bayuk: "Sexual Identity and A Room of One's Own: 'Secret 
	Economies' in Virginia Woolf's Feminist Discourse." Signs 14:3 (
	1989): 634-650.  Historicist reading of what it meant to have a 
	"lesbian identity" in the 1920s and analysis of a lesbian passage 
	excised from the published draft of Room (an earlier version of 
	the "Chloe liked Olivia" section).  Links the writing of Room to 
	the Well of Loneliness obscenity trial.  In September 1929, Woolf 
	and others wrote in protest of the novel’s being banned; in 
	October she gave the Room lectures; the trial was in November.  
	Rosenman argues that Woolf changed the passage because she did not 
	want to link herself to Hall’s male identified version of the 
	lesbian as a man trapped in a woman’s body.

Schwartz, Beth C.  "Thinking Back through Our Mothers: Virginia Woolf 
	Reads Shakespeare."  ELH  58.3 (1991): 721-46.   Argues that Woolf 
	presents a "maternal muse," especially in Orlando, A Room of One’s 
	Own, and The Waves, a muse that exemplifies androgynous qualities of 
	mind to which Woolf thinks women writers should aspire.  Schwartz 
	links Shakespeare to this maternal muse by tracking Woolf’s praise 
	of anonymity (especially in her last unfinished work "Anon"), a 
	quality Woolf sees often in Shakespeare.  By linking the maternal 
	with a male figure, Woolf challenges the belief that woman is to 
	nature as man is to culture. 

Squier, Susan, "Mirroring and Mothering: Reflections on the Mirror 
	Encounter Metaphor in Virginia Woolf's Works." Twentieth Century 
	Literature 27.3 (1981): 272-288.  Examines mirror scenes in 
	Mrs. Dalloway, The Voyage Out, "A Sketch of the Past," and A Room 
	of One’s Own, distinguishing woman-mirror scenes  (Dalloway, 
	Voyage) from man and woman-as-mirror scenes (Room) and various 
	ways mirrors "can nurture or deplete an individual’s sense of 
	self" (287).  Links Room to "Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid" in 
	resolving women’s complicity in their role as the magnifier and in 
	women’s monopoly on the role of mother.

Stimpson, Catharine R.  "Woolf’s Room, Our Project: The Building of 
	Feminist Criticism."  The Future of Literary Theory.  Ed. Ralph 
	Cohen.  New York: Routledge, 1989.  129-43.  Rpt. Rachel Bowlby, 
	ed.  Virginia Woolf.  London: Longman, 1992.   162-79.  ILL.  
	Stimson uses Room as the center of an analysis of current feminist 
	criticism, of which Woolf "is a major architect and designer" 
	(162).  She argues that "Woolf’s swerving, dancing, fleeing sets 
	of maneuvers between homosexuality and heterosexuality prefigure 
	three centers of gravity in feminist criticism: . . . women’s 
	interests; . . . heterosexual interests; . . . male dominance" 

Thompson, Nicola.  "Some Theories of One's Own: Orlando and the Novel."  
	Studies in the Novel  25:3 (1993): 306-17.   Links Room  to 
	Orlando (written at the same time) in regard to the theme of 
	gender and literature. 

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