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Virginia Woolf scholar publishes fifth volume of criticism

Cover of new book

Eileen Barrett's new volume takes another look at Mrs. Dalloway.

  • February 23, 2010 12:00pm

Eileen Barrett, professor of English, has teamed with Mills College Professor Ruth Saxton on Approaches to Teaching Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, Barrett's fifth co-edited volume of Woolf criticism. It is part of the Modern Language Association series on teaching world literature.

Barrett has been publishing on the writings of Virginia Woolf for more than 25 years because "she was a brilliant novelist, essayist, and feminist who writes beautifully about key issues in our times."

This latest volume enabled Barrett to combine her interest in Woolf with her passion for teaching.

Fellow Woolf scholar Mark Hussey of Pace University observed, "This Approaches volume will be invaluable: it is rich in accessible resources, alert to the eclecticism of approaches to teaching fiction, rooted in the practical world of the classroom, and it consistently informs its suggestions with the point of view of student responses." 

In other publications, Barrett has argued for the relevance of Woolf’s feminist, anti-war critique of the connections between educational, economic, and social institutions of patriarchy and the ongoing promulgation of international wars. Barrett has also written about the influence of Woolf on Toni Morrison (who wrote her MA thesis on Woolf and Faulkner) and connections between Woolf and James Baldwin. In her current project Barrett discusses Woolf's influence on the contemporary Anglo-Caribbean writers Andrea Levy and Caryl Phillips.

Though published in 1925, Mrs. Dalloway stays in the limelight. 

A 1998 film adaptation of Mrs. Dalloway, directed by Marleen Gorris and starring Vanessa Redgrave, introduced Woolf's novel to a growing population of book clubs, as well as to other mainstream readers. Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer-Prize winning tribute to Woolf and the novel, The Hours (1998), and the 2002 film based on Cunningham's novel, shifts the popular reference point for Woolf from Edward Albee's Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to Nicole Kidman's Oscar-winning performance. 

Approaches is available at: http://www.mla.org/store/CID39/PID382

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